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The Lunchroom Encounter

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by Gil Jesus
( 2012 )

"Baker's movements were timed with a stopwatch. On the first test, the elapsed time between the simulated FIRST shot and Baker's arrival on the landing was 1 minute and 30 seconds. The second test run required 1 minute and 15 seconds." ( Report, Chap. 4, pg. 152 )

The execution of the reconstruction was in disregard of the known actions of the participants, stretching the time consumed for Baker to reach the second floor and shrinking the time of descent of a sixth floor gunman.

A False Start

The Commission timed Baker from the FIRST shot ( 3 H 252 ) while Baker testified that he didn't respond until after the LAST SHOT.

For the timing of the reconstruction to be valid, it had to start AFTER the last shot.

The Commission claimed in its Report that the span of shots was anywhere from 4.8 to a excess of 7 seconds. ( Report, Chap. 3, pg. 117 )
Baker was flanking the last camera car, whose occupants included Malcolm Couch ( 6 H 156 ), Bob Jackson ( 2 H 158 ), Tom Dillard and James Underwood ( 6 H 169 ).

The men in the car recalled being in proximity to the intersection of Houston and Elm at the time of the shooting. (2 H 158, 2 H 159 )
Had the reconstruction properly started after the last shot, Baker would have reached the TSBD in 8-10 seconds, rather than the 15 seconds (Report, Chapter 4, pg. 152 ) the Commission claimed it took.

This conclusion is supported by witness Pauline Sanders, who was standing outside the Texas School Book Depository and witnessed Baker run into the building "in a matter of ten seconds a uniform police officer in a white helmet ran into the building". Commission Exhibit 1434 is her statement.

Roy Truly told the Secret Service that Baker made his way to the front entrance "almost immediately". ( CD 87, pg. 778 ) And Truly told CBS News that Baker's arrival "was just a matter of seconds after the last shot."

The occupants of the last camera car ( Camera Car 3 ) related how their car came to a stop or hesitated in the middle of the turn on Elm St. It stopped to let some photographers out. ( 2 H 162, 6 H 165, 169 ) Couch's film begins slightly BEFORE the stop, just as the car was making the turn onto Elm.
From the testimony of those in the car and the scenes depicted in the film, it can be determined that Couch began filming NO MORE THAN FIVE SECONDS AFTER THE LAST SHOT.
Camera Car 3 occupant Jackson told the Commission that after the last shot, as his car hesitated through the turn onto Elm, he said he saw a policeman run up the Depository steps toward the front door. ( 2 H 164 )

Since the evidence shows that Baker reached the TSBD main entrance within 10 seconds, the reconstruction time is off by +5 seconds before Baker even gets into the building.

Stretching of Baker's Time

The two reconstruction times reflect times taken when Baker "walked" or "kind of run". ( 3 H 253 ) As we can see from the Couch film, he neither walked or "kind of run', ---he ran. And the witnesses said he ran. Baker admitted he ran ( 3 H 248-249 ). Truly gave a good description of this mad dash. ( 3 H 221 )

So why did the Commission time Baker "walking" and "trotting" through his actions ?
Like I said, to stretch his response time.

The Commission claimed that Baker's time would have been even LONGER because it didn't account for " jostling with the crowd of onlookers on the steps" (Report, pg. 152-153)

The Couch film eliminates the possibility that that slowed Baker down.
Eddie Piper saw Baker and Truly RUN into the building, not walking or trotting, yell up for an elevator and then climb the stairs
Truly and Baker reached the second floor in under 85 seconds and the Couch film introduces the possibility that it may have been as little as 70 seconds since Baker parked his motorcycle within 10 seconds of the last shot.

Shrinking the Gunman's Descent

The second part of the reconstruction, that of the actions of the sixth floor gunman, took 1:18 and 1:14 according to the Commission.
This reconstruction also suffered from serious omissions.
After the last shot, a minimum of 2.3 seconds must be added to the reconstructed time because the gunman operated the bolt of the rifle ejecting the last fired shell and chambering a fourth cartridge.

In addition, witnesses claimed that the gunman had been in no hurry to leave the window. ( 2 H 159, 3 H 144 )
The "sniper's nest" was constructed in such a way as to inhibit movement in and out of it. Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney had to squeeze between two stacks of boxes, " I had to turn myself sideways to get in there" ( 3 H 285 ).

To simulate the hiding of the rifle, the SS man ( Howlett ) "leaned over as if he were putting a rifle there" ( 3 H 253 ). But Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman reported that the rifle was "covered with boxes. It was well protected as far as the naked eye". ( 7 H 107 ) Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone testified that the rifle was "stuffed down between two rows of boxes with another box or or so pulled over the top of it." ( 3 H 293 ) Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig said that the the ends of the rows between which the rifle had been pushed were closed off by boxes, so that one could not see through them. ( 6 H 269 )
Photographs of the area where the rifle was found support these two men's claims.

CE 719 shows that the rifle was found amid a cluster of boxes that did not permit easy access and CE 517 shows that the rifle was upright between two rows of boxes that had partially overlapped on top, thus eliminating the possibility that the rifle had been merely dropped down between the stacks.

Concealment of the rifle required much maneuvering. In addition to squeezing between boxes to exit the sniper's nest, the gunman had to navigate through rows filled with books. The rifle itself had been very carefully placed in its position. The gunman had not left the window in any hurry and chambered one last round.
To the government's minimum time of 1:14 for the gunman to reach the second floor, add 6 or 7 seconds for the re-chambering and squeezing out of the sniper's nest. Next add another 15 or 20 seconds for the gunman to get to the area where the rifle was placed and cover it with boxes of books on top and on the ends so that it was not easily found.

That's anywhere from 1:35 to 1:41 total time for a sixth floor gunman to have reached the second floor.

Had Oswald been the assassin, he would have reached the second floor AT LEAST 5 to 11 seconds AFTER Baker, and thus the reason why the re-enactment response had him WALKING ( 1:30 ), which we know he didn't.
Therefore, if Oswald was in the lunchroom BEFORE Baker got there, we know he couldn't possibly have descended from the sixth floor.

Oswald in the Vestibule

Another piece of evidence proving that Oswald did not descend from the sixth floor is the Commission's conclusion that Baker "caught a glimpse of someone" from the staircase in the vestibule through the window in the vestibule door and then rushed to the door .

"When they reached the second-floor landing on their way up to the top of the building, Patrolman Baker thought he caught a glimpse of someone through the window in the door separating the hall area near the stairs from the small vestibule leading into the lunchroom. Gun in hand, he rushed to the door ". ( Report, pg. 5 )

As they ran up the stairs, Truly was in front of Baker. Truly's testimony that he did not see anyone entering the vestibule seems to suggest that Oswald entered it from a different direction.

Mr. BELIN. Now when you say you ran on to your left, did you look straight ahead to see whether there was anyone in that area, or were you intent on going upstairs?
Mr. TRULY. If there had been anybody in that area, I would have seen him on the outside.
( 3 H 223 )

In this picture taken from Commission Exhibit 1118, the blue line represents Oswald's path had he descended the rear stairs from the sixth floor. The pink striped area is the maximum area in the vestibule visible to Baker from the position ( red "X" ) he "glanced" someone in the lunchroom.


Notice how the blue line does not intersect Baker's line of sight inside the vestibule. Baker could not have seen ANYONE in the lunchroom or if they had entered it through the vestibule door if the door was closed.
Notice also the two red lines represent paths into the vestibule from both an adjoining hallway and the adjacent office area. Anyone entering the vestibule from either of those areas WAS in Baker's line of sight.

For Baker to have caught a "glimpse" of Oswald in the vestibule from the bottom of the stairs, as the Commission claims he did, Oswald would have had to come up the front stairway from the first floor and enter it from either the office area or the hallway.

Which means he didn't come down from the sixth floor.

The fact that Baker had to open ( 3 H 251 ) the mechanically closing door to the vestibule confirms that the door was closed and he could not have seen anyone in the vestibule through that door.

Baker told the Commission that "I can't say whether he had gone on through that door or not." ( 3 H 255 )
Regardless, the Commission found that Oswald descended four flights on the rear stairs before Truly and Baker ascended one flight.

But the evidence is entirely consistent with Oswald ascending from the FRONT stairwell and from the first floor.

Oswald and the Coke

When they reached the second-floor landing on their way up to the top of the building, Patrolman Baker thought he caught a glimpse of someone in the lunchroom through the window in the door separating the hall area near the stairs from the small vestibule leading into the lunchroom. Gun in hand, he rushed to the door, opened it, and saw a man 20 feet away walking toward the other end of the lunchroom. The man was empty handed. ( Report, Pg. 6 )

The issue of whether or not Oswald had already made a purchase from the soda machine when the officer confronted him in the lunchroom is critical in the timing of his alleged flight from the sixth floor. It creates a timing sequence where Oswald would have arrived at the lunchroom SOONER than Baker and makes it impossible for Baker to have seen him through the window of the vestibule door.

According to the Commission, Dallas Homicide Captain Fritz asked Oswald to account for himself at the time the President was shot. He said that he ate lunch in the first-floor lunchroom and then went to the second floor for a Coke which he brought downstairs.

Mr. BALL. Did you ask him what he was doing in the lunchroom?
Mr. FRITZ. He said he was having his lunch. He had a cheese sandwich and a Coca-Cola.
Mr. BALL. Did he tell you he was up there to get a Coca-Cola?
Mr. FRITZ. He said he had a Coca-Cola.
( 4 H 213 )

Baker was never asked under oath if he had seen a Coke in Oswald's hands. Roy Truly, Oswald's supervisor who accompanied Baker up the stairs to the sixth floor by way of the lunchroom, was asked twice if Oswald had a Coke. Initially, Truly expressed some doubt as to whether there was anything in Oswald's hands.

Mr. BELIN. Could you see whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald had anything in either hand?
Mr. TRULY. I noticed nothing in either hand.
Mr. BELIN. Did you see both of his hands?
Mr. TRULY. I am sure I did. I could be wrong, but I am almost sure. I did.
( 3 H 225 )

But later in his testimony, Mr. Truly has NO DOUBT about what he didn't see:

Mr. DULLES. Did he have a coke?
Mr. TRULY. No, sir.
Mr. DULLES. No drink?
Mr. TRULY. No drink at all. Just standing there.
( 3 H 239 )

Probably because Commission counsel failed to ask him during his testimony if he had noticed anything in Oswald's hands, Baker gave the FBI an affidavit regarding his encounter with Oswald in the lunchroom. In the handwritten statement, which is Commission Exhibit 3076, Baker makes no mention of seeing someone moving through the glass in the doorway and states that he "saw a man standing in the lunchroom drinking a coke".
The phrase "drinking a coke" is crossed out and initialed by Baker, but that deleted phrase, by its spontaneous mention, corroborates Oswald's statement that he had already purchased a coke when stopped by Baker and makes a xxxx out of Roy Truly.

I'll be posting a follow-up to this post that provides further evidence that Oswald was on the first floor before and after the shots were fired.

Edited by Gil Jesus
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No mention of it in Baker's original statement.  I tend to believe the Prayerman, Bart Kamp work.  It never happened.  Oswald ate his cheese sandwich in the domino room/lesser workers lunch room.  Then went up for a coke and down to watch the p-parade with Shelly out front.

Edited by Ron Bulman
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This is a great post and a thorough analysis of the circumstances of the alleged second floor lunchroom encounter. I remember reading it from a PDF retrieved by Bart Kamp couple years ago. 

In my opinion, the timing problems can still be addressed using a computer reconstruction in which movement of actors (Officer Baker, Superintendant Truly, Lee Oswald, Vicki Adams and Sandra Styles, Mrs. Garner) can be estimated using different velocities and trajectories of each actor. The critical time point would be when Baker was just stepping on the platform of the second floor and Lee would just be a second before entering the lunchroom - this was the only time instant at which Baker could have spotted Lee Oswald. From that time point, the movements of each actor need to be reconstructed backwards. Of course, we do not know the timing of each action and this can affect the total movement time. For instance, how many seconds did elapse while Truly and Baker were probing the elevator before deciding to use the stairs? Five, ten? Every time segment can add to the final time estimate, and therefore, we work with a probability estimate of the movements of Lee Oswald and Baker intesecting at the critical point.

I hope you would be able to check my preliminary analyses when they are available.

Your analysis of the events occurring in the vestibule are spot-on and corroborate Barry Ernest's investigation. It took 4 seconds for the door leading from the platform to the vestibule would stop moving before closing completely; Baker would have to see the doors still moving if Lee entered the vestibule from the platform which he did not. Thus, Lee Oswald could only enter the vestibule from the hallway to be seen by Baker in the way Baker had described. The Depository floor plan does show a door at the transition between the hallway corridor and the vestibule, however, the door was actually opened permanently. This is seen in the video of the FBI reenactment of Lee Oswald's movements, and it was also confirmed by Barry Ernest who was able to examine the vestibule during his visit of the Depository in the sixties of the last century.

Thus, if Baker saw Lee Oswald and challenged him in the second-floor lunchroom, it only could happen if Lee Oswald came to the lunchroom from the hallway, and this would imply that Lee has come not from the sixth floor (and via the door from the platform on the north side of the floor) but from the first floor (via the stairs in the front of the building). The timeline to examine is not the one assuming Lee coming from from the sixth floor to the second floor lunchroom but rather from the Domino room in the first floor to the steps in the doorway and then via the front stairs to the second floor lunchroom. The advantage of the computer analysis is that it allows for testing multiple alterative scenarios, including the first-to-second floor scenario.

Interestingly, the first-to-second floor scenario has been briefly discussed by Bill Kelly and Sean Murphy early on in the thread "Oswald leaving the TSBD?" in 2013, however, it has not been elaborated since.

There is one more problem with the second-floor lunchroom encounter as presented by the Warren Commission, as if proving Lee's decsending from the sixth floor. It took about 5-6 seconds to walk the distance from the exit of the stairwell leading to the second floor platform (from the third floor) and the door leading to the vestibule. As Roy Truly was several steps ahead of Baker, he would have to either see Lee Oswald entering the door to the vestibule or see him manipulating the door. As both men entered the stairwell on the first floor, they would have to hear Lee's steps as Lee would be descending the steps one floor above them. Both men would have to hear Lee Oswald's steps when he was walked down the stairs because the steps produced loud noises that could be heard on floors above and below. However, neither Truly nor Baker mentioned hearing any noises coming from the stairwell above while they started their ascend.









Edited by Andrej Stancak
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