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Gunsmoke, Gunfire in Dealey Plaza---A Diversion?


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I thought I had posted this on the Education Forum years ago but evidently not. Topical again. 

So here goes: 

The Grassy Knoll Events As Diversion

Gunsmoke On the Plaza

The 1974 book Murder From Within by Fred Newcombe may come to an unproven conclusion that Lyndon Johnson organized his predecessor’s murder, but like so many earnest researchers Newcombe waded through the documents and testimony, and registered clues that were totally missed or ignored by the Warren Commission, and even effectively overlooked by the House Select Committee on Assassinations. 

Give Newcombe credit; he noticed that at least nine witnesses—and many experienced witnesses no less—smelled the distinctive, telltale scent of gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza immediately after the assassination, including most famously Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough, a World War II veteran. Riding in the motorcade in a car behind the president’s, Yarborough said smelled gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza and that it clung to his car throughout the race to Parkland Hospital.

Perhaps engaging in a little journalistic license, a newspaper reported that “seconds later the [presidential] cavalcade was gone [from Dealey Plaza]. The area still reeked with the smell of gunpowder.”

Later, the Aussie detective Colin McLaren would say he counted 22 witnesses at street level who smelled gunsmoke that day in Dealey Plaza, for his regrettable video that concludes a Secret Service man accidentally shot President Kennedy. 

But the headcount was worthy yeoman duty.

JFK assassination researchers, of course, are more than aware that railroad workers on the Triple Overpass (most notably S.M. Holland), and Lee Bowers in the Union Terminal Co.’s two-story observation tower in the railroad parking lot behind the Grassy Knoll, said they saw a puff of gunsmoke concurrent to gunshots, and then smoke lingering in the trees atop the Grassy Knoll shortly thereafter.

Lee Harvey Oswald’s “sniper’s nest” in the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) was about 80 yards from the Grassy Knoll, and downwind that day from Dealey Plaza, as shown by women’s skirts fluttering in the breeze in various photographs and films.  Gerald Posner makes a complete ass of himself by suggesting the gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza had issued from Oswald's rifle. 

Patrolman Joe M. Smith

But perhaps Dallas Police Department Patrolman Joe M. Smith is the most interesting and best witness, “best” as he can be assumed to be very familiar with vehicular exhaust and gunsmoke. 

In a Dec. 9 1963 interview with the FBI, Smith, a Korean war vet and eight-year Dallas cop, said he smelled gunsmoke in the Union Terminal railroad yard parking lot next to the Grassy Knoll, after the assassination.

And Smith is most “interesting” for the hysterical woman he met en route to an encounter with what was likely a Secret Service imposter. 

After gunshots rang out in Dealey Plaza, Smith told the Warren Commission that, [T]his woman came up to me and she was just in hysterics. She told me, “They are shooting the President from the bushes.” So I immediately proceeded up here.

By “here” Patrolman Smith meant the bushes around the concrete concave-shaped pergola structure, also sometimes called a monumental colonnade, between the TSBD and the Grassy Knoll. 

Smith’s testimony to Warren Commission has nearly become canon in the assassination community, recounted many times, and always intriguing. 

As Smith further explained, I was checking all the bushes and I checked all the cars in the [railroad] parking lot. 

Smith then elaborates, “There was some deputy sheriff with me [probably Dallas Deputy Seymour Weitzman], and I believe one Secret Service man when I got there.

Smith added, I got to make this statement, too. I felt awfully silly, but after the shot and this woman, I pulled my pistol from my holster, and I thought, this is silly, I don't know who I am looking for, and I put it back. Just as I did, he showed me that he was a Secret Service agent. 

[Warren Commission staffer]Mr. LIEBELER: Did you accost this man? 

Mr. SMITH: Well, he saw me coming with my pistol and right away he showed me who he was.

Smith said he had doubts about the man actually being Secret Service: 

It didn’t ring true.  He looked like an auto mechanic.  He had on a sports shirt, but he had dirty fingernails.  I should have checked the man closer, but he had produced correct identification.

As JFKA researchers well know, there were no Secret Service men on duty anywhere in Dallas, except in the motorcade. Dallas Deputy Sheriff Seymour Weitzman made a similar statement to the Warren Commission about a Secret Service man in the railroad yard, and later told an interviewer that he also saw identification. 

The Warren Commission’s oceanic indifference to actual and potential witnesses is well-documented, and evidently no effort was made to find either the fake Secret Service man nor  “the hysterical woman.”

And she is worth pondering. 

The Hysterical Woman

There are two main possibilities defining the hysterical woman who approached Patrolman Smith with word about gunmen in bushes that day in Dealey Plaza:

One: She was an earnest witness. If this is the case, it is an acute loss that she was not detained and interviewed. For starters, the first question would be: “Which bushes?” Clues such as footprints or shreds of cloth on bush branches might be looked for. She seems to have had a more definite idea of the precise locations of shots and gunsmoke than most witnesses that day, most of whom could only say in general they heard shots or saw or smelled smoke in the area of the Grassy Knoll.  

Two: She was part of a diversion. This is an interesting conjecture, since her efforts, along with the noise, sight and smell of gunsmoke, worked so effectively to divert police resources to the Grassy Knoll and railroad yards, and away from shots fired at the president from well behind his limousine. If the hysterical woman was an earnest witness, why did she never come forward and direct authorities to the bushes she had in mind? 

The Diversion

Indeed, the copious amount of gunsmoke released at the precise time the president was being assassinated in Dealey Plaza raises the question of intentional diversion.

Sometimes Warren Commission supporters hazard that modern guns do release smoke, and so the whole gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza story is meaningless, but that is a patently incorrect and, well, also a diversion.  

Modern gunpowder and weapons only release less smoke than old-fashioned black powder, and even today gun enthusiasts say cheap ammo is smoky. 

Nevertheless, a single shot from a rifle with good-quality 1960s-era ammo would likely not leave Dealey Plaza “reeking” of gunsmoke, or leave Yarborough’s car impregnated with odor. 

So?

A Handgun And Smokey Ammo?

As it turns out, handguns are louder and smokier than same-caliber rifles, or long guns. 

The longer barrel of a rifle suppresses noise, muzzle flash and smoke, in comparison to a handgun.

Moreover, a “snub-nose” handgun is louder yet, releasing the most muzzle flash and smoke.

Interestingly, the snub-nose .38 Smith & Wesson was a common gun in the 1960s, readily available and nearly standard issue to anyone who carried a concealed weapon. 

In addition, the .38 is a favorite among “hand-loaders,” or gun enthusiasts who load their own cartridges, and select their own gunpowders—including varieties of smoky “black powder.” The lubing on lead bullets, as opposed to copper-jacketed or steel-jacketed bullets, is also known to increase smokiness. 

All that said, an individual could have hidden in the bushes by the Dealey Plaza colonnade-pergola on Nov. 22, and fired two hand-loaded lead shots from a .38 snubnose not at the motorcade, but well higher over the motorcade, indeed high enough to clear Dealey Plaza. The result would be the sound of gunshots and plenty of gunsmoke pouring toward Elm Street.

Improvised Explosive Device?

Modern-day commercial firecrackers use “flash powder,” a different formulation than gunpowder, and which smells different after combustion. 

But historically, firecrackers were made with gunpowder, and amateurs can easily fabricate same, and still do. A firecracker is little more than thick paper wound tightly around explosive powder, plus a fuse. 

This raises the possibility that someone fabricated one or two large firecrackers with ample amounts of gunpowder—more gunpowder than would be used in just two bullet cartridges—which they ignited as the presidential motorcade passed. This would account for Dealey Plaza “reeking” of gunsmoke after the motorcade passed.

Many Dealey Plaza witnesses said the first shot sounded different from the following two shots, and many say the first shot sounded like a firecracker. Maybe it was.  

In summary, creating explosions and copious amounts of gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza was easily done 1963, with materials readily available at the time. 

Worth noting is that 21 law enforcement officers that day in Dealey Plaza thought the sound of gunshots had come from the Grassy Knoll.

G Robert Blakey And The Missed Shot

G. Robert Blakey, chief counsel to the 1977-8 House Select Committee on Assassinations and a conspiracy proponent, has stated that if there was a shot at President Kennedy from the Grassy Knoll on Nov. 22, then it missed.

This is a possibility, but seems unlikely. Missing a head shot from 75 feet is one thing, but missing the whole stretch limousine? 

There is no one who says the presidential limo was struck on the side, or on the capacious rear hood, or the front hood. The front seat occupants were uninjured.

No one says there was a bullet striking the grass on the south side of Elm St. (opposite the Grassy Knoll) and no witnesses were struck. 

If it is accepted that the head shot on President Kennedy was from behind, then a logical deduction is no one shot at the president from the Grassy Knoll. But there could have been shots from the Grassy Knoll, but not aimed at Kennedy. 

The Diversion

Taking the above as premise, the obvious hypothesis is someone concealed themselves in the bushes near the Grassy Knoll or adjacent colonnade on Nov. 22, and then as the Presidential motorcade passed, fired an easily concealed snub-nose .38, armed with hand-loaded and intentionally smoky gunpowder and bullets. They fired well over the presidential motorcade, indeed intending to miss all bystanders and nearby buildings. Their role was diversion from the actual assassins, who were behind the president by 80 yards.  

Or, one or two black-powder loaded firecrackers would have also sufficed.  

This individual then carefully retreated to the railroad yard, not running, and perhaps feigning that he was a law-enforcement officer searching for perpetrators. There, the diversionist was accosted by DPD Patrolman Smith, but he flashed his phony Secret Service identification. Eventually, the suspect melted into the commotion, and was never seen again.

Yes, “only” a diversion on the Grassy Knoll.  And a successful one. 

But even a diversion means a conspiracy. 

Conclusion

I did not devise the “Grassy Knoll as a Diversion” scenario merely as a debating platform. 

Nevertheless, there is nothing in the Warren Commission, or in the HSCA reports, or in books authored by Gerald Posner, Bill O’Reilly or Vincent Bugliosi that can refute or rebut the “Grassy Knoll as a Diversion” hypothesis.

The Lone Nut crowd can offer debated medical forensics on the head shot—just one and from behind, for example—and they can justifiably recount the many clues pointing to Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt and mental condition. 

They can chose to ignore links between Oswald and the CIA, or between Jack Ruby and the Mob, which are not conclusive on their own. 

But the indisputable facts remain that at the exact time President Kennedy was being shot, experienced witnesses thought there was the sound of gunshot from the Grassy Knoll; there was the heavy odor of ignited gunpowder; there was visible gunsmoke; and within moments there was a suspect flashing phony Secret Service identification near the Grassy Knoll.

And also a hysterical woman telling Patrolman Smith that somebody was shooting at President Kennedy “from the bushes.” 

If there was no Grassy Knoll gunman on Nov. 22, then what remains is likely to have been an intentional diversion. 

Addendum:

An FBI document released in 1978 reported that on Nov. 23, 1963 noted that ”Patrolman J. Raz brought into the Homicide and Robbery bureau, Dallas PD, a brown paper sack which contained a snub-nosed .38 caliber Smith and Wesson. SN 893265 . . . that had been found near the curb at the corner or Ross and Lamar Streets and was turned in by one Willie Flat …" 

The location is a few blocks north of Dealey Plaza—in other words, someone had tossed aside a snub-nose .38, in a paper bag, likely on the day of the assassination, mere blocks from where JFK had been shot. By one account, the paper bag was found at 7:30 am in the morning. 

Although the snubnose in question was a US-make Smith & Wesson, the gun had been traveled, and sent to England evidently during WWII, and then made its way back, . Someone cut down the barrel after WWII, making it a snub-nose, an inexpensive weapon—indeed, a throw-away gun, of the type to be used in a crime or ruse and then discarded. 

To be sure, it is mere speculation that a snub-nose .38 found in a paper bag early Nov. 23 was the same weapon that produced shots and smoke in Dealey Plaza a few hours earlier. But interesting nonetheless.

 

 

 


  

 

 

 

 

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On 8/30/2021 at 1:57 PM, Benjamin Cole said:

The Hysterical Woman

There are two main possibilities defining the hysterical woman who approached Patrolman Smith with word about gunmen in bushes that day in Dealey Plaza:

I think this woman was Gloria Calvery.  She was described by JM Smith as "in hysterics", and mentioned specifically by Billy Lovelady:

Mr. LOVELADY. I thought it was firecrackers or somebody celebrating the arrival of the President. It didn’t occur to me at first what had happened until this Gloria came running up to us and told us the President had been shot.
Mr. BALL. Who was this girl?
Mr. LOVELADY. Gloria Calvary.

6H338 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh6/pdf/WH6_Lovelady.pdf

This was corroborated by Bill Shelley who said she was crying which matches the "hysterics" description:

Mr. SHELLEY. Gloria Calvary from South-Western Publishing Co. ran back up there crying and said “The President has been shot” and Billy Lovelady and myself took off across the street to that little, old island and we stopped there for a minute.

6H329 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh6/pdf/WH6_Shelley.pdf

This brief meeting of these few witnesses is featured in my animation and the timings seem to neatly tie everything together on the Elm Street extension where JM Smith, Lovelady, and Bill Shelley seemed to go when they were all seen in the Couch film within 30 seconds of the last shot being fired.

On 8/30/2021 at 1:57 PM, Benjamin Cole said:

Smith added, I got to make this statement, too. I felt awfully silly, but after the shot and this woman, I pulled my pistol from my holster, and I thought, this is silly, I don't know who I am looking for, and I put it back. Just as I did, he showed me that he was a Secret Service agent. 

This is a very troubling account, and with Weitzman also mentioning Secret Service people this is very odd.  The only Secret Service agent I know of in Dealey Plaza was Forrest Sorrels but he went to the hospital first.  He didn't return the Dealey Plaza until about 20 minutes after the shots were fired:

Mr. STERN. Just a minute. How much time do you think elapsed from the time the shots were fired until the time you returned to the Book Depository?
Mr. SORRELS. I don’t believe it could have been over about 20 minutes, because we went to the hospital just as fast as we possibly could, and I wasn’t there very long.
And we came back as fast as we could.
Of course we didn’t get back as fast as we went out there, because traffic was moving.

7H347 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh7/pdf/WH7_Sorrels.pdf

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I've long thought diversionary gunfire in Dealy Plaza came from the S E corner of the 6th floor of the TSBD.  Maybe a couple of shots, probably not from the Carcano or by Oswald.  Quite possibly not even aimed at the limo.  Meant to draw attention to the rear and upward, while other shots came from elsewhere.  Look at SSA reactions in Altgens. 

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6 hours ago, Mark Tyler said:

I think this woman was Gloria Calvery.  She was described by JM Smith as "in hysterics", and mentioned specifically by Billy Lovelady:

Mr. LOVELADY. I thought it was firecrackers or somebody celebrating the arrival of the President. It didn’t occur to me at first what had happened until this Gloria came running up to us and told us the President had been shot.
Mr. BALL. Who was this girl?
Mr. LOVELADY. Gloria Calvary.

6H338 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh6/pdf/WH6_Lovelady.pdf

This was corroborated by Bill Shelley who said she was crying which matches the "hysterics" description:

Mr. SHELLEY. Gloria Calvary from South-Western Publishing Co. ran back up there crying and said “The President has been shot” and Billy Lovelady and myself took off across the street to that little, old island and we stopped there for a minute.

6H329 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh6/pdf/WH6_Shelley.pdf

This brief meeting of these few witnesses is featured in my animation and the timings seem to neatly tie everything together on the Elm Street extension where JM Smith, Lovelady, and Bill Shelley seemed to go when they were all seen in the Couch film within 30 seconds of the last shot being fired.

This is a very troubling account, and with Weitzman also mentioning Secret Service people this is very odd.  The only Secret Service agent I know of in Dealey Plaza was Forrest Sorrels but he went to the hospital first.  He didn't return the Dealey Plaza until about 20 minutes after the shots were fired:

Mr. STERN. Just a minute. How much time do you think elapsed from the time the shots were fired until the time you returned to the Book Depository?
Mr. SORRELS. I don’t believe it could have been over about 20 minutes, because we went to the hospital just as fast as we possibly could, and I wasn’t there very long.
And we came back as fast as we could.
Of course we didn’t get back as fast as we went out there, because traffic was moving.

7H347 - https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh7/pdf/WH7_Sorrels.pdf

That is interesting about Gloria Calvary. So, to your knowledge, was Calvary ever interviewed in depth and detail about where exactly she thought the shots came from? In other words, did anyone ever return her to the Grassy Knoll-colonnade area and ask, "Which bushes, what exactly did you see?" 

I actually fall into the camp of people who think the JFKA conspiracy was very small, involving at most a handful or people, maybe less than you can count on one hand. The JFKA was not investigated in its immediate aftermath, which led to theorizing about the complexity of the JFKA, and mythologies about its scale and planning. But a dreadnought investigation, and the non-death of LHO might have cracked the case back in November 1963. It might have been a CIA false flag op gone wrong with two participants and two interlopers, and the interlopers were dead by 1967. 

But it is interesting there were employees in the publishing companies inside the TSBD who just become invisible. I think their offices were never even searched after the JFKA. One employee at one of the publishing companies actually had been a employee of Jack Ruby's.  Perhaps the true perps just hid out in the publishing offices until dark, and then left under some ruse. Wearing uniforms, etc. 

 

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45 minutes ago, Jon Pickering said:

Hi, Benjamin - how are you?Have you considered the round that went into the right temple of the President -  signifying, along with the timing, fire from the right, i.e.,  from the direction of the knoll? 

Jon P.---

The actual direction of gunfire striking JFK remains (for me) a confounding aspect of the JFKA.  Others have spent careers looking at this and remain unsure, such as Josiah Thompson.  Unfortunately, the autopsy and medical evidence are so dubious and contaminated as to defy deciphering. 

Let us posit a throat shot to JFK from the front---and where did it exit?  How did the shot get around the windshield? Yet there are smart people who 100% assert there was a front throat shot to JFK.  Maybe there was. 

A shot from the Grassy Knoll? Yes, JFK is violently thrust back and to his left, as we see in the Z film.  But many gunshot victims hardly budge. Witness the first shot to JFK's neck. He does not move at all.  

One can posit a frangible bullet struck JFK from the right and front (the Grassy Knoll area), and that caused the big movement by JFK. That is possible also. 

My guess is there were two guns, possibly semi-automatics with silencers, behind JFK, and diversionary fire from the Grassy Knoll.  LHO fired his rifle harmlessly twice, intentionally missing.  He was a patsy. That's my guess. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 8/30/2021 at 1:57 PM, Benjamin Cole said:

A Handgun And Smokey Ammo?

As it turns out, handguns are louder and smokier than same-caliber rifles, or long guns. 

The longer barrel of a rifle suppresses noise, muzzle flash and smoke, in comparison to a handgun.

 

James Files!! Picket fence!! Remington XP100!! Bitemarks on casing!!........JFK murder solved!!!!!!!!!!

Ps. Wheres Wim Dankbarr these days, he had entertainment value.

Pps. His JFKA collaborator turned mortal enemy Peter de Vries was murdered last month, 5 gunshot wounds, one to the head.........spooky

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On 9/1/2021 at 2:23 AM, Benjamin Cole said:

That is interesting about Gloria Calvary. So, to your knowledge, was Calvary ever interviewed in depth and detail about where exactly she thought the shots came from? In other words, did anyone ever return her to the Grassy Knoll-colonnade area and ask, "Which bushes, what exactly did you see?" 

As far as I know Calvery was never interviewed and never gave any more details.  It's a great pity as she could well have given more info regarding the bushes she was referring to.

On 9/1/2021 at 2:23 AM, Benjamin Cole said:

I actually fall into the camp of people who think the JFKA conspiracy was very small, involving at most a handful or people, maybe less than you can count on one hand. The JFKA was not investigated in its immediate aftermath, which led to theorizing about the complexity of the JFKA, and mythologies about its scale and planning. But a dreadnought investigation, and the non-death of LHO might have cracked the case back in November 1963. It might have been a CIA false flag op gone wrong with two participants and two interlopers, and the interlopers were dead by 1967. 

I agree, the major failure was the lack of a proper investigation immediately following the events as that would have conclusively proven whether Oswald acted alone or had assistance.  Along with the awful autopsy I don't see how anyone can now prove with certainty what really happened as the full truth of the crime scene was never properly established in 1963.  Without that information, all theories will struggle to be promoted to "fact", including the lone nut theory.

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35 minutes ago, Mark Tyler said:

As far as I know Calvery was never interviewed and never gave any more details.  It's a great pity as she could well have given more info regarding the bushes she was referring to.

I agree, the major failure was the lack of a proper investigation immediately following the events as that would have conclusively proven whether Oswald acted alone or had assistance.  Along with the awful autopsy I don't see how anyone can now prove with certainty what really happened as the full truth of the crime scene was never properly established in 1963.  Without that information, all theories will struggle to be promoted to "fact", including the lone nut theory.

Mark-

I take issue on one point: There had to be a JFKA conspiracy, as the occupants of the limo were struck by bullets too rapidly to have been shot by a single gunman armed with a bolt-action rifle. 

Additionally, at least  22 witnesses, many veterans and police, smelled gunsmoke in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, in Dealey Plaza, which was upwind from LHO. At a minimum, that suggests diversionary gunfire from the Grassy Knoll area.  Even diversionary gunfire translates into a conspiracy. 

Anyway, that is my take. 

 

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7 hours ago, Sean Coleman said:

James Files!! Picket fence!! Remington XP100!! Bitemarks on casing!!........JFK murder solved!!!!!!!!!!

Ps. Wheres Wim Dankbarr these days, he had entertainment value.

Pps. His JFKA collaborator turned mortal enemy Peter de Vries was murdered last month, 5 gunshot wounds, one to the head.........spooky

Sean-

Yes, the crackpots, gadflies and the mercenary have been attracted to the JFKA.  

But the fact that there are some lulus around does not explain how a lone gunman armed with a single-shot bolt action rifle managed to get off his second and third shots in less than one second, or why so many people, including police and veterans, smelled gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza the immediate aftermath of the shooting. 

There had to be either a shooter or a decoy in the Grassy Knoll area. And that means a conspiracy. 

 

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Great post, Ben, that makes the correct point in my view that Dealey was put together by professional tricksters so nothing can be taken at face value.  The fact that the shooters could make the ‘mistake’ of firing a dirty weapon that would give away their location seems Iike a prime one to reconsider to me.

Like Dylan sang: 

The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watchin', no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone's eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done

 

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