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The Consensus of the Witnesses

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The overwhelming consensus of the witnesses that day, who commented on the spacing of the shots, was that they heard a single shot or noise, followed by a delay and then closely bunched shots at the end of the attack. This is how the Warren Commission described them:

“ ..a substantial majority of the witnesses stated that the shots were not evenly spaced. Most witnesses recalled that the second and third shots were bunched together.”

At one point during the hearings, Warren Commissioner Allen Dulles noted the overwhelming consistency of these witnesses, when he described the ratio of those confirming that shooting scenario in comparison with others,

“There has been a certain amount of testimony indicating there was a longer pause between the report of the first shot... and the second and third shots, that is not absolutely unanimous but I would say it is something like 5 to 1 or something of that kind..”

Specific examples:

Eugene Boone,

“And we heard what we thought to be a shot. And there seemed to be a pause between the first shot and the second shot and third shots..”

Motorcycle officer Clyde Haygood,

“Mr. Belin. Were the three spaced equally distant?

Mr. Haygood. No..

Mr. Belin. Was one more close than the other one?

Mr. Haygood. The last two were closer than the first. In other words, it was the first, and then a pause, and then the other two were real close.”

Railroad superintendent Lee Bowers, who was well positioned fifteen feet above the ground in the railroad tower behind the Dealey Plaza pergola,

“I heard three shots. One, then a slight pause, then two very close together.”

Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell whose vehicle was in the motorcade, several cars behind the President,

“There was a longer pause between the first and second shots than there was between the second and third shots. They were in rather rapid succession.”

Mrs. Earle Cabell, who was riding with her husband,

“It was in just a fleeting second that I jerked my head up and I saw something in that window, and I turned around to say to Earle, "Earle, it is a shot” and before I got the words out, just as I got the words out, he said, "Oh, no; it must have been a.." the second two shots rang out.”

U.S. Congressman Ralph W. Yarborough,

“..by my estimate - to me there seemed to be a longer time between the first and second shots, a much shorter time between the second and third shots..”

Secret Service agent William Lawson,

“...I heard two more sharp reports, the second two were closer together than the first. There was one report, and a pause, then two more reports closer together, two and three were closer together than one and two.”

Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig,

“Mr. BELIN. Two or 3 seconds between the first and the second?

Mr. CRAIG. Well, it was quite a pause between there. It could have been a little longer.

Mr. BELIN. And what about between the second and third?

Mr. CRAIG. Not more than 2 seconds. It was, they were real rapid.”

James N. Crawford,

“..the second shot followed some seconds, a little time elapsed after the first one, and followed very quickly by the third one..”

Motorcycle Police Officer, Marrion Baker,

“..I looked up, as the shots started, I immediately looked up, you know. I was already facing ahead and I just kind of raised, I sighted up, and while I was looking-up, those other two shots came off.”

Secret Service agent William Greer who drove the Presidential limousine,

“The last two seemed to be just simultaneously, one behind the other...”

Secret Service agent George Hickey in the followup car immediately behind the President,

“At the moment he was almost sitting erect I heard two reports which... were in such rapid succession that there seemed to be practically no time element between them.”

Texas Highway Patrolman, Hurchel Jacks, who drove the Vice-President's car,

“I heard a shot ring out which appeared to come from the right rear of the Vice President's car. Mr. Rufus Youngblood, the Secret Service Agent riding in my car asked me what that was and at the same time he advised the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson to get down. He climbed to the rear of the seat with the Vice President and appeared to be shielding the Vice President with his own body. At that time I heard two more shots ring out.”

Mary Woodward (reporter for the Dallas Morning News)

“I heard a very loud noise. And I wasn't sure what it was at that point, and I turned to my friends and asked "what was that? Is some jerk shooting off firecrackers?' And then I heard the second one, and this time I knew what had happened, because I saw the president's motion, and then the third shot came very, very quickly, on top of the second one.”

Victoria Adams, who observed the motorcade from a window in the Texas School Book Depository,

“...we heard a shot, and it was a pause, and then a second shot, and then a third shot.”

Robert H. Jackson,

“I would say to me it seemed like 3 or 4 seconds between the first and the second, and between the second and third, well, I guess 2 seconds, they were very close together...”

Ladybird Johnson (wife of then, vice-president Lyndon Johnson),

“..suddenly there was a sharp loud report; a shot. It seemed to me to come from the right, above my shoulder, from a building. Then a moment and then two more shots in rapid succession.”

Sheriff's Deputy, C.M. Jones,

“..A few short seconds later, I heard an explosion followed in about 3 to 5 seconds later two more explosions.”

Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman, who rode in the front, passenger seat of the Presidential limousine, referring to the time between the last two shots he recalled,

“Let me give you an illustration, sir, before I can give you an answer. You have heard the sound barrier, of a plane breaking the sound barrier, bang, bang? that is it.”

Billy Lovelady, standing in the front entrance of the depository,

“After he had passed and was about 50 yards in front of us I heard three shots. There was a slight pause after the first shot then the next two was right close together.”

Mary Ann Mitchell,

“...there were three---the second and third being closer together than the first and second...”

Joe R. Molina.

“... Of course, the first shot was fired then there was an interval between the first and second longer than the second and third.”

Luke Mooney.

“...the second and third shot was pretty close together, but there was a short lapse there between the first and second shot.”

Arnold Rowland,

“The actual time between the reports I would say now, after having had time to consider the 6 seconds between the first and second report and two between the second and third.”

Barbara Rowland,

“...the second and third were closer than the first and second. “

Edward Shields,

“I heard one shot and then a pause and then this repetition - two shots right behind the other..”

Special Agent Forrest V. Sorrels in the lead car,

“There was to me about twice as much time between the first and second shots as there was between the second and third shots.”

Chief Sheriff's Deputy Allan Sweatt,

“The President's caravan had just passed and about a minute or two, I heard a shot and about 7 seconds later another shot and approximately 2 or 3 seconds later a third shot...”

Secret Service agent Warren W. Taylor,

“In the instant that my left foot touched the ground, I heard two more bangs and realized that they must be gun shots.”

Bonnie Ray Williams

“... I remembered three shots, because there was a pause between the first two shots... The second and the third shot was closer together than the first shot and the second shot..”

Linda Willis, the fifteen year old daughter of Phil Willis (responding to a question about the number of shots),

“Yes; I heard one. Then there was a little bit of time, and then there were two real fast bullets together.”

Secret Service agent Rufus W. Youngblood,

“There seemed to be a longer span of time between the first and the second shot than there was between the second and third shot.”

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