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Why are there no pictures of the rifle in the window?

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I can imagine an alternate world where the most famous picture from the JFK assassination wasn't a frame from the Zapruder film or the picture of Ruby shooting Oswald, but the photo of the assassin's rifle sticking out of the sixth floor window. Even a blurry snapshot would have become instantly infamous.

But, why doesn't that picture exist?

Warren Commission testimony of Robert Jackson, photographer for the Dallas Times Herald newspaper:



Mr. SPECTER - Do you know exactly which car you were in the motorcade?
Mr. JACKSON - We counted up, and it is either the seventh or eighth car. We said eighth car from the President, from the lead car.
Mr. SPECTER - When you say we counted up, whom do you mean?
Mr. JACKSON - The photographers in the car. As we left Love Field, we were trying to figure how far back we were and we all decided it was the eighth car.
Mr. SPECTER - Can you reconstruct that count for us which provided the basis for your conclusion that you were the seventh or eighth car. For example, how many cars ahead of you was the President's car or the Vice President's car, if you can recollect, please.
Mr. JACKSON - Let me think a minute. I know there was a photographer's car directly in front of us which I believe had some of the local press. It was a convertible. Then in front were, I believe, two or three cars carrying the press, the White House press, and the President Johnson, I guess would be in the next car, and then the President in the lead car, or the next car, and I believe there was another car in the lead.
Mr. SPECTER - So as you recollect the scene there was a lead and immediately behind the lead car, whose car?
Mr. JACKSON - The president's I believe.
Mr. SPECTER - And the immediately behind the President's whose car?
Mr. JACKSON - The Vice President's.
Mr. SPECTER - And immediately to the rear of the Vice President's car?
Mr. JACKSON - Press vehicles and I was told it was the White House press, two or three cars.
Mr. SPECTER - And there was one car filled with photographers?
Mr. JACKSON - Directly in front of us.
Mr. SPECTER - Between your car and the cars which you believe to have been filled with White House newsman?
Mr. JACKSON - Yes, sir.
Mr. CHAIRMAN - Wasn't there a Secret Service car directly behind the President's car?
Mr. JACKSON - Yes, sir.
Mr. CHAIRMAN - Between it and the Vice President's car?
Mr. JACKSON - Yes, sir; that is right.
Mr. SPECTER - Wasn't there a Secret Service car immediately behind the Vice President's car. If you know?
Mr. JACKSON - There must have been. That is what I can't recall is which was which in there. I knew the White House press was in there but I didn't know how many cars. I am sure there was Secret Service cars, yes, sir.

The conservative motorcade order and number of cars established in this testimony appears to be:

1. Lead car

2. President's car

3. President's Secret Service

4. Vice President's car

5. Vice President's Secret Service

6. White House press car 1

7. White House press car 2

8. Local photographers press car 1

9. Local photographers press car 2 (with Robert Jackson)

(I am sure someone will correct me if this is in error, but it seems to be the order established by this testimony.)


Mr. SPECTER - What kind of car was it, sir.
Mr. JACKSON - I believe it was a Chevrolet convertible.
Mr. SPECTER - Top down?
Mr. JACKSON - Yes, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - Were you carrying one camera, or more than one camera?
Mr. JACKSON - Two cameras.
Mr. SPECTER - And was one camera loaded at the time you rounded the corner of Main and Houston?
Mr. JACKSON - Yes, sir; and one was empty.

Jackson had a camera loaded and ready, sitting in an open convertible that had just rounded the corner and was heading north on Houston.


Mr. SPECTER - All right. Will you now proceed to tell us what happened as you rounded the corner of Main and Houston , Please?
Mr. JACKSON - Well, as our reporter chased the film out into the street, we all looked back at him and were laughing, and it was approximately that time that we heard the first shot, and we had already rounded the corner, of course, when we heard the the first shot. We were approximately almost half a block on Houston Street.
Mr. SPECTER - Will you identify for me on Commission Exhibit 347, Precisely as possible, where your automobile was at the time you heard the first shot?
Mr. JACKSON - Approximately right here, I would say the midpoint of this building. Approximately where we heard the first report.
Mr. SPECTER - Now, will you mark a black "X" on 347 the spot where your car was at the time you heard the first shot?
Mr. JACKSON - Right here approximately. And as we heard the first shot, I believe it was Tom Dillard from the Dallas News who made some remark as to that sounding like a firecracker, and it could have been somebody else who said that. But someone else did speak up and make that comment and before he actually the sentence we heard the other two shots. Then we realized or we thought it was gunfire, and then we could not at that point see the President's car. We were still moving slowly, and after the third shot the second two shots seemed much closer together than the first shot, than they were to the first shot. Then after the last shot, I guess all of us were just looking all around and I just looked straight up ahead of me which would have been looking at the School Book Depository and I noticed two Negro men in a window straining to see directly above them, and my eyes followed right on up to the window above them and I saw the rifle, or what looked like a rifle approximately half of weapon, I guess I saw. and just looked at it, it was drawn fairly slowly back into the building, and I saw no one in the window with it. I didn't even see a form in the window.
Mr. SPECTER - What did you do next?
Mr. JACKSON - I said "There is the gun," or it came from that window. I tried to point it out. But by the time the other people looked up, of course, it was gone, and about that time, we were beginning to turn the corner.
Mr. SPECTER - Which corner were you beginning to turn?
Mr. JACKSON - Houston onto Elm.

Jackson later goes into more detail about what he saw and what transpired in his car during the shooting sequence:


Mr. SPECTER - What is your estimate of how many inches of the rifle that you observed?
Mr. JACKSON - I saw the barrel and about half - well, I did not see a telescopic sight, but I did see part of the stock, so I guess maybe 8 or 10 inches of the stock maybe. I did see part of the stock, I did not see the sight.
Mr. SPECTER - Eight or ten inches of the stock, and how much of the barrel would you estimate?
Mr. JACKSON - I guess possibly a foot.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you see anyone's hands on the rifle?
Mr. JACKSON - No, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - Now, as best as you can recollect it, what exact words did you state at or about the time you made the observation of the rifle, if any?
Mr. JACKSON - I said, "There is the gun" and somebody said "Where?" And I said, "It came from that window" and I pointed to that window.
Mr. SPECTER - Do you recollect who it was who said "Where?"
Mr. JACKSON - Somebody in the car, I don't recall who.
Mr. SPECTER - Did anybody else in the car say anything else at the time?
Mr. JACKSON - Nothing that I could remember. I am sure they were all talking.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you say anything else at about that time?
Mr. JACKSON - If I did, I don't remember.
Mr. SPECTER - Did anyone in the automobile state that he, too, had seen the rifle from the window?
Mr. JACKSON - No, sir.
Mr. SPECTER - Did you have a conversation with all of the men in the car immediately after the incident?
Mr. JACKSON - No, sir; because as, I guess after the third shot, I do recall the driver speeding up, and we hesitated at the corner before turning left, and three of the occupants of the car got out, jumped out.

It's astounding to me that Jackson had all this time to verbally point out the rifle in the window, which none of the other occupants of the car seemed to be able to see even though it was dead ahead of them in bright clear daylight and making loud banging noises, yet it did not seem to occur to Jackson to take a picture, even after hearing the sound he apparently recognized as gunfire and recognizing the sight of what he believed to be a rifle barrel.

What kind of newsperson has time to talk and point out a rifleman in the process of shooting at a presidential motorcade, but not the instinct to take a photograph - even when hearing gunfire around the president?

And it was not just the reporters in Jackson's car and Jackson himself. According to Jackson, there were an additional three or four cars ahead of him filled with press people, all with a closer view, all of them travelling slowly up Houston street looking straight ahead at the southern face of the TSBD in the bright sunshine; a building which I repeat according to the official version of events was emanating the sound of gunfire, and for some reason only one professional photographer could see a rifle in a window and none of them could manage to take a photo of the building during the shooting.

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Well, if this testimony is accurate then a picture of the rifle barrel sticking out of the window could have been taken. I'm pretty sure those behind the assassination would have been pretty pleased with a picture like that as long as you couldn't see the gunman and realize it wasn't Oswald, lol! But this is precisely why standard protocol was broken that day. The press was usually in front of the president and if they had been they may have captured more details than the plotters would like known and possibly even get a picture of the real gunman at that angle. Being 7 or 8 cars behind the president in an already slow moving motorcade and you still have to slow down significantly to make that turn onto Elm gives the shooters plenty of time to get those shots off and get out of dodge. Apparently if what he is saying is accurate then he observed the last shot and them being so far behind he couldn't see the shooter at all. Had the press been any closer at all, even one car closer we very well may have gotten that picture of the rifle. As far as spectators in the crowd lined along the streets taking that picture, all their attention was focused on the president and his car. Unless that particular Depository window was just in the background of a picture taken of the president at the time of the shots, which would probably have to have been one of the first shots before he got far enough away from that window to see it, you were never gonna see that. They do these things like magicians do, using those sleight-of-hand tricks. Look over HERE! While the real action they don't want seen is happening elsewhere. I think this is even more true in the shooting of Bobby Kennedy. Sirhan is the distraction while other shooters, chiefly Ceasar the security guard, do the real shooting. I honestly believe that Sirhan didn't fire a single shot that night. Not using bullets anyway. I think he was programmed and given a prop gun like they use in movies. That's why you have the serial numbers being changed and all those shenanigans going on to replace the gun in evidence with a real gun. Possibly even one of the real guns used so that bullets can be traced to it. Some people that night have said something about seeing confetti in the air. Those fake bullets they use have confetti in them I've read, or produce confetti when fired. Once I really thought about it, even if you say Sirhan was programmed, there were reports of other people firing guns in the pantry even besides Ceasar. Why would you risk Sirhan firing wildly and possibly hitting one of your real shooters? I truly believe he was firing a Hollywood style prop gun. Sorry to get off topic but I wanted to clearly illustrate my sleight-of-hand remark. I think I'm a fairly intelligent, observant guy. A friend sent me a video once and I was told to watch it and describe what all I saw happen afterwards. I caught a few things of course but then he watched it with me and pointed out all the things that were going on in that video that I hadn't even noticed. Wardrobe changes from the actors. Things in the background being swapped or taken out completely. There were maybe 50 different changes over the course of this 5 minute or so video clip and I had only noticed a few. He is a physics teacher and he played this video in his class for his students to illustrate human perception and how you need controls and things in experiments because human perception can be tricky. And how you need an open mind and you have to use deductive reasoning and such. Anyway, sorry for the long rambling post, haha!

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Good points @Jamey Flanagan. All those press cars were in the best place to photograph the alleged assassin, but in the worst place to take pictures of an assassin on the knoll. I suspect that was no coincidence. Anyone who did happen to take pictures on Houston street probably had their film seized right away. Amos Euins wasn't even taking pictures during the shooting, only beforehand. And he says his camera was still taken away and never returned.

Then there's the story of Jerry Coley of the Dallas Morning News and the pool of blood. Coley had a photographer co-worker take a picture, the prints and negatives which were later, according to Coley, confiscated by FBI men. These FBI men also told Coley and his co-workers to keep quiet about it all. They may not have been the only media organization to have inconvenient film seized and then urged to maintain secrecy. That, to me, seems more likely than several cars worth of press people all facing the TSBD and not being able to snap one single photograph as a rifleperson fires at the president, a rifleperson that even takes the time to slowly withdraw the rifle barrel. The only way a picture of the rifleman would be inconvenient is if it didn't incriminate Oswald alone.

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