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As a continuation of the discussion about Ray's ammo, I'd like to offer the following for some positive dialog.

The rifle purchased in Birmingham by Ray was recovered in Memphis with one expended round (hull) in the chamber and no other rounds loaded. The rifle could have held four additional rounds but none of the ammo recovered along with the rifle had been loaded.

So where does that lead.....well if Ray had been planning to shoot Dr. King it means he had consciously decided that he would take only one shot, hit or miss and then toss down the weapon since it contained no other ammo. Now if he had consciously thought that out why would he not have worn gloves while handling the weapon, carried a bunch of other stuff traceable to him into the rooming house and done a number of other things to disassociate himself from that rifle and cover his trail. And with that careful forethought, why not just ditch the rifle in the bathroom, carrying it anywhere after the shooting is really high risk.

Another option would be that Ray acted spontaneously, somehow deciding to take the shot after observing the Lorraine motel for some time from the common bathroom of the rooming house....taking no time to ensure no prints were on the rifle or to worry about his stuff in the room, the car, in Atlanta..etc.

And yet another option is that somebody took the shot with a rifle Ray had handled (but only loaded one round to do so, leaving us still with this one shot, one hit or nothing scenario), pitched the rifle and other personal stuff from Ray's room into the street and made off in a second white mustang parked on the street in front of the rooming house.

I have no vested interest in any of these options but it would be nice to see some constructive dialog and thinking on the issue...and some other scenarios if somebody has them.

Personally I'm struck by the fact that someone used a rifle with only one round of ammo and killed Dr. King

during what amounts to a three minute window of opportunity, largely due to the fact that Dr. King went back

for a jacket rather than going directly downstairs after his first appearance on the hotel balcony when no shot was taken.

-- Larry

Edited by Larry Hancock

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And yet another option is that somebody took the shot with a rifle Ray had handled (but only loaded one round to do so, leaving us still with this one shot, one hit or nothing scenario), pitched the rifle and other personal stuff from Ray's room into the street and made off in a second white mustang parked on the street in front of the rooming house.

Larry,

The problem with that scenario is that based on the witness accounts the "other" Mustang left before the shooting and the man who fled Ray's room and dumped his rifle sped off in HIS car.

As for why he dumped the bundle the most likely explanation was that he planned to toss it into the Mississippi, 2 - 3 min. away, but dumped it when he saw the cop cars a few feet away.

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What is giving me fits is that there are problems with all three scenarios.

In regard to the one you mentioned, what if it were Ray that left earlier in one Mustang and indeed someone else was in the rooming house, took the shot and then dumped the bundle as they took off?

I follow your logic on the bundle being dumped if it was indeed Ray, as far as I'm concerned he might just have reacted after an unplanned shot) and realized that carrying the rifle with an expended shell in it during his flight out of town would be a death sentence - after all he would have had no idea that the police would not have set up enough blockades to catch him in Memphis.

Irrespective of all that, we have the outstanding issue of the rifle with a single hull in the chamber and no more ammunition loaded in the weapons. That effectively makes the rifle a "throw down" since its of no further use yet ties by general ballistics to the King shooting regardless of anything else. If Ray used it under the circumstances in scenario one, it suggests absolutely no premeditation.and no planning at all - at least to me. It would also suggest an immense amount of risk in placing all his faith in a single shot.

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Larry,

Ray DID leave that afternoon, he bought the binoculars. Though he claimed he walked the salesman saw him get in and out of the Mustang, i.e. another of Ray's lies. The salesman said he was there 3 - 4PM but he only seems to have returned about 4:45. So either the salesman was mistaken about the time or Ray went somewhere else before returning to the flophouse, I think the former more likely. However the 6 witnesses who described the Mustang in front of Jim's gave descriptions inconsistent with Ray's car thus the Mustang between Canipe's and the fire station must have been his, and that was the car the man who fled Ray's room w/ Ray's rifle drove off in.

Pepper et. al. point to Mr. Hurley who said the Canipe's Mustang had an Arkansas plate but since 6 witnesses indicated the Jim's Mustang was not Ray's he was almost certainly mistaken, Rashemon strikes again!

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OK Len, if we go with that, it takes out one scenario - so which one do you pick.......do you have Ray waiting in the

bathroom for an extended time with a rifle with one shell, no gloves on and no apparent thought to any of the evidence

he had laying around in various places....something spontaneous or perhaps another scenario?.

Does anybody discuss these things here but you and Martin?

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OK Len, if we go with that, it takes out one scenario - so which one do you pick.......do you have Ray waiting in the

bathroom for an extended time with a rifle with one shell, no gloves on and no apparent thought to any of the evidence

he had laying around in various places....something spontaneous or perhaps another scenario?.

Does anybody discuss these things here but you and Martin?

Since Ray lied repeatedly we can only guess.

Is it possible Ray couldn't figure out how to load more thn one bullet at a time? Perhaps he'd planned to eject the shell and though another bullet from the box he'd bought would be incriminating.

If Ray was planning to dump the bundle in the "Old Muddy" he might have assumed wiping his prints or wearing gloves unessecary.

Let's flip this around.why would it have been advantageous for an experienced hitman or someone trying to frame Ray to have loaded only one bullet into the rifle?

Besides Martin and me a certain Sooner posts here once in awhile :);)

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Well, I'm from Oklahoma so that would make too of us.

On the first point, based on statements from the gun shop owners Ray had previously visited he asked a lot of questions about rifles he was considering - would seem a little out of line to not even ask how to load multiple rounds if you were into planning something serious (or even really going hunting). On the other hand, Ray did exchange the rifle with the one he had bought earlier and did so pretty quickly, perhaps he didn't ask the right questions - on the other hand that might suggest he truly was just being ordered to buy a gun and that's what he did, not expecting to fire it. If that were true and something made him take the shot without planning, then certainly he might not have cared about loading more than one shell.

It would seem to me that carrying the rifle out on to the street and taking it in his car to dump somewhere else is pretty risky, again, if he gets stopped with it then the prosecution for first degree murder is pretty much a done deal.

Turning the question around - why would anybody do that to him. Well if he had handled the rifle, and you have access to it, and are a reasonable shot - you take the shot and throw down the rifle and you are done. Of course if you are firing from the bathroom you could just leave the gun there, and there's no need to go the bundle route.

-- can't say I like that last one much myself, Larry

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Larry

I'd assume if someone had told him to buy a rifle they would have at least told him which caliber, so he seems to have been pretty much flying solo, yet another indication the Raoul story was BS. Him returning it would better fit the scenario he was essentially acting on his own limited assistance and a promise of a bounty from others. He could have told one he'd bought a .243 and they could have told him he was better off with something more powerful like a .30-06. AFAIK we have no exact indication of the questions he asked but they gave 2customers the feeling he knew nothing about rifles. Since he supposedly was going hunting with his brother Ray might have asking how to load the gun too suspicious.

Ray was parked only 30 - 50 feet from the flophouse door and a bridge over the Mississippi was only 2-5 min. away dumping the stuff in river would have been better than leaving it in his room or the john. Police could have suspected the shot was fired by the man from 5B but would have able to prove it or figure out who he was.

As to Daniel's point according to his flophoue neighbors Ray locked himself in the bathroom for extended periods of time but did not use the sink or toliet and did not answer when they knocked. He could have checked to make sure the 'coast was clear' before going from one room to the other, the door were only a few feet apart and it seems pretty easy to disasemble the gun:

"Remove the two pins in receiver, pull trigger assembly forward and down. Slide action back, remove pin in tube at the fore-end. Unscrew cap, use the hole in the tube, insert punch, rotate counter clockwise and unscrew. unscrew the bushing inside the fore end. Wiggle the barrel up and down and remove."

Well, I'm from Oklahoma so that would make too of us.

On the first point, based on statements from the gun shop owners Ray had previously visited he asked a lot of questions about rifles he was considering - would seem a little out of line to not even ask how to load multiple rounds if you were into planning something serious (or even really going hunting). On the other hand, Ray did exchange the rifle with the one he had bought earlier and did so pretty quickly, perhaps he didn't ask the right questions - on the other hand that might suggest he truly was just being ordered to buy a gun and that's what he did, not expecting to fire it. If that were true and something made him take the shot without planning, then certainly he might not have cared about loading more than one shell.

It would seem to me that carrying the rifle out on to the street and taking it in his car to dump somewhere else is pretty risky, again, if he gets stopped with it then the prosecution for first degree murder is pretty much a done deal.

Turning the question around - why would anybody do that to him. Well if he had handled the rifle, and you have access to it, and are a reasonable shot - you take the shot and throw down the rifle and you are done. Of course if you are firing from the bathroom you could just leave the gun there, and there's no need to go the bundle route.

-- can't say I like that last one much myself, Larry

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I know of no evidence he had any contacts in Canada, even he said he got the passport on his own. He is suspected of having robbed a bank in his hometown he was in the area and bought a car the next day. His half of the take would have been enough to have paid his way. It is also possible some white supremacists gave him an 'advance'.

Edited by Len Colby

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I think Daniel's point about the bathroom is a good one. Ray truly was a pretty cautious type and waiting in a bathroom

with a rifle and the door locked for an hour or more.....in the common bathroom for a full rooming house...would make him the focus of some attention. The alternative would be a plan which has him locate himself in the bathroom and figure that when he sees Dr. King he will run next door for the rifle....but by that time there might be a line of unhappy folks outside the bathroom door. Just doesn't sound like a real plan.

........on a side note, that long wait in the bathroom seems to argue against any structured time table for the

shooting.

A compromise might be that Ray was simply observing the motel, with or without binoculars - up to the point

where he saw Dr King just standing still on the balcony and talking...and then deciding to take the shot.

Seems to me the fact that the shot was made on Dr. King's second appearance argues for that.

On Len's point about the gun purchase, our view is that Ray was "loosely coupled" to the real plotters and made

his own decision on the first gun, only to check in and be told something different. It's even possible that Ray wa

given a gun type but to save money went for something cheaper (he had looked at 30.06 weapons earlier) and

then was told in no uncertain terms what type of gun he had to have.

I am open to the fact that Ray initially reacted after the shooting and thought taking the gun and his stuff was a good idea but

changed his mind by the time he hit the street.....but again, that supports the "spontaneous" scenario rather

than something well planned (or even not very well planned).

Our problem with all this, to be repetitive, is that we cannot know what the real "plan" was vs. what actually seems to have

happened.

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Larry

Ray's excessive amount of time in the john was noticed by at least three of his neighbors in 2 rooms. There were only 5 other rooms in that part of the flophouse, 1 or 2 of which were empty. The time between his check in and the shooting was only 2 1/2 - 3 hours, part of which he was out buying binoculars. he is believed to have monitored the Loraine from his room.

I wonder if he could have stashed the rifle under the tub?

Len

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The basics certainly suggest to me that there was no well thought out plan to shoot from the Lorraine, it would have been no great problem to check out the layout of the building in advance and for that matter to get Ray in there days or a week before, probably with an actual room facing the Lorraine. To me it appears that Ray is coming in cold, with none of the advance planning he demonstrated in certain of his earlier crimes such as the store robberies. Even his purchase of binoculars only that afternoon suggests a lack of preparation.

Perhaps his commandeering the bathroom was not that great a risk, stashing the gun under the tub...interesting idea but if so we still have the single loaded round issue? And he's still leaving fingerprints. If he had not taken a load of personal effects, including his radio, into the place, if he had worn gloves and then just left the rifle in the bathroom with them, he could have been out and gone no sweat.

So....I'm still thinking what we see is Ray acting without much forethought and little plan other than hauling stuff into the place for an overnight or longer stay, taking in the rifle and ammo and then taking over the bathroom after that....with no real idea of how long he is going to be in there....now that might be OK for some binocular surveillance, for one thing to see if he can identify Dr. King at that distance. I can see ducking out to get the gun and loading one round after the first appearance on the balcony.

Still not sure I see him staying in there with one round in a weapon even if he could stash it under the tub and just taking the chance that nobody takes note when they come in and take a seat facing the tub. All in all, still doesn't sound like any sort of real plan for assassinating a major public figure - I've seen pick up ball games with more structure.

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Let's not stoop to strawmen Dan, "no evidence" for something is a very different animal from 'not possible'. Were there any organized white supremacists in Canada? There probably were, was Ray in contact with them? I have not seen any evidence of this, have you?

This is close to the subject of Stu and Larry's book, perhaps they can shed some light on it.

No need for the scare quotes on the word bounty, it well established there was a price on King's head, the question is, did Ray know about it and was that his motive?

I believe Ray told the truth about the passport because it would have been in his interest to have said the mysterious "Raoul" had set it up for him. Why would he have told a lie that weakened his case?

I know of no evidence he had any contacts in Canada, even he said he got the passport on his own. He is suspected of having robbed a bank in his hometown he was in the area and bought a car the next day. His half of the take would have been enough to have paid his way. It is also possible some white supremacists gave him an 'advance'.

Really? There could've been white supremacists involved? But only to give him an "advance" (on the "bounty")?

Well that's an interesting idea, and surely there would be no white supremacists in Canada, at least not in any "organized" way, only the occasional beer-drinking bigot, harmless fellows for the most part.

But why would you take Ray's word on getting his own passport if you don't take his word on "Raul" and various other things?

I don't want to divert Larry's rifle thread onto other subjects, but if I'm gonna get involved in these discussions I'm clearly gonna have to brush up on stuff like this white supremacist business. There could be some useful areas to explore there.

Edited by Len Colby

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Larry I agree the hit was pretty slap dash but from what I gather that was Ray's style. His defenders portray him and brothers as a bunch of bumbling boondock boobs. Which of "his earlier crimes" demonstrated "advanced planning"?

The basics certainly suggest to me that there was no well thought out plan to shoot from the Lorraine, it would have been no great problem to check out the layout of the building in advance and for that matter to get Ray in there days or a week before, probably with an actual room facing the Lorraine. To me it appears that Ray is coming in cold, with none of the advance planning he demonstrated in certain of his earlier crimes such as the store robberies. Even his purchase of binoculars only that afternoon suggests a lack of preparation.

Perhaps his commandeering the bathroom was not that great a risk, stashing the gun under the tub...interesting idea but if so we still have the single loaded round issue? And he's still leaving fingerprints. If he had not taken a load of personal effects, including his radio, into the place, if he had worn gloves and then just left the rifle in the bathroom with them, he could have been out and gone no sweat.

So....I'm still thinking what we see is Ray acting without much forethought and little plan other than hauling stuff into the place for an overnight or longer stay, taking in the rifle and ammo and then taking over the bathroom after that....with no real idea of how long he is going to be in there....now that might be OK for some binocular surveillance, for one thing to see if he can identify Dr. King at that distance. I can see ducking out to get the gun and loading one round after the first appearance on the balcony.

Still not sure I see him staying in there with one round in a weapon even if he could stash it under the tub and just taking the chance that nobody takes note when they come in and take a seat facing the tub. All in all, still doesn't sound like any sort of real plan for assassinating a major public figure - I've seen pick up ball games with more structure.

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Dan, that's pretty much what The Awful Grace of God is all about - Stu and I spent a bit over 5 years on it (and still have about four years of FOIA's in process) - so if you do want to look into it that might give you a bit of a start.

Actually there was some white supremacist activity in Canada and there were Canadians involved with the National States Rights Party, some traveling to Birmingham for mentoring and connections it appears. Stu probably has more information on the Canadian connections if you wanted to pursue that.

I've probably said all I can think of to say on the rifle thread in terms of talking specifically about the rifle directly associated with Ray. There's a bunch more to say about 30.06 weapons in general - although at this point most of the MLK past discussion seems to immediately divert to the possibility of a shooter at another location. What is interesting is that it immediately goes off in two tracks ie.. Other scenarios include Ray's which has somebody else shooting from the rooming house and framing him and an alternative track that has Ray in the rooming house and someone shooting from a location close to it, leaving him holding the bag (hey, I just couldn't resist that one). There a lot of iterations of this mix, some books present all of them.

I'm not sure it would be that productive to wade into all that here, but one issue that is pretty interesting and might be worth discussing is the fingerprint issue - which Professor Melanson really did good work on and which actually has some headroom to do more solid work by submitting existing prints (many of which were left unidentified - shades of the TSBD) to the FBI computerized matching system.

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