‘At least two of the shots…came from behind me’

“I have read the Warren Commission Report in its entirety and dozens of other books as well, I am sorry to say the only thing I am absolutely sure of today is that at least two of the shots fired that day in Dealey Plaza came from behind where I stood on the knoll, not from the book depository.”

–Cheryl McKinnon,a journalism major who witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy. McKinnon went on to become a newspaper reporter for the San Diego Star News.

Here’s her account of what she saw and heard, published in the Star News on November 20, 1981.

See also:

“What was going through my mind was that shot was coming right over the top of our heads” (JFK Facts, Nov. 22, 2103(

“21 JFK cops who heard a grassy knoll shot, “(Sept. 24, 2013).

Was there a gunshot from the grassy knoll? (JFK Facts, March 20, 2013)




  1. Jonathan says:

    Was Cheryl McKinnon interviewed by the Warren Commission?

    • Ronnie Wayne says:

      Never read about her myself but my initial impression is it’s legit. Though I’ve been fooled before. Not one of the big city newspapers in a time when newspapers were a major source of news for those interested. Pretty well a local item. But easily duplicated in this day and time.
      I’m not a researcher with time and funds but this should be checked out pretty easily. Local Colleges retain alumni info.
      Is she still alive in Arizona? Would she consent to an interview? Can her children confirm anything? Where was she standing?
      Shot’s from a rifle over head/over your shoulder/behind you would be something a witness would find definitive in a persons memory. She seems pretty sure of herself on this point.
      Her statements tend to confirm those of others, especially the Newman’s who dove to the ground to protect their children.

      • Ronnie Wayne says:

        If the article is bogus, who done it ? A conspiracy theorist? She has not come forward for any $$$ or attention. The CIA ??? They really need a shooter from the right front to solidify the Government Sanctioned Version.

        • Photon says:

          “Dealey Plaza … Sits in the heart of the downtown area…”
          No it doesn’t- it is at the West End and nowhere near the heart of downtown Dallas.
          “… Enjoy their lunch under a tree…”
          Except that there weren’t any trees at the time of the assassination – look at the photos.
          ” Myself and dozens of others standing nearby turned in horror to the back of the grassy knoll …”
          Except there weren’t dozens of people on the grassy knoll and there isn’t a single photograph of anybody looking back at the knoll until the limo had left the area.
          This whole article is nothing but a poorly researched attempt at a narrative created by somebody who obviously was never in Dealey Plaza and had no idea that only a handful of people were on the knoll.
          Why did she do it? Well she got published- which apparently never happened again. She became famous- at least as Cheryl McKinnon, with multiple conspiracy authors inventing educational backgrounds and employment histories for her out of whole cloth.

          • Gerry Simone says:

            If this was Bugliosi’s witness, he’d argue that you’re knit-picking over inconsequential details and that her story basically corroborates what other’s felt were shots from the knoll.

            The knoll just isn’t the grassy areas immediately south or west of the picket fence but west and south of the concrete wall and pergola; so there were more people than just the few everybody knows stood near that sidewalk as they watched the motorcade.

            Look it, Ernest Brandt claims to be the guy watching the motorcade wearing a dark suit and his fedora (which he still sports on every anniversary), yet the Warren Commission never called him. He kept a low profile, as did others over the years (some more so than him).

            Cheryl McKinnon kept a low profile and only spoke about it in a local paper. She wasn’t seeking attention or profit. She doesn’t even accuse the government of a conspiracy. She still claims there were three shots, as did a majority of witnesses, not some wacky account.

            Some lone assassin proponents are so dismissive of any witness who kept a low profile, yet they will accept those promoting Oswald as the lone assassin even though those accounts have changed or were totally opposite of their WC testimonies after being grilled by the FBI.

            How do you know that the guy who Ernest Brandt claims is him with his back to Zapruder, while standing on the sidewalk, truly is Ernest Brandt?

  2. George Simmons says:

    There are multiple witnesses who thought a shot may have come from the grassy knoll including 21 cops as highlighted on this site previously.
    When I think of a shot from the grassy knoll, I think of the testimony of the Dallas Motorcycle Cop Joe Marshall Smith. When he searched the picket fence area he found a man who identified himself as a secret service agent, and apparently flashed him a card. As I understand it, the seceret service stated they had no agents in that location.

  3. Photon says:

    At what point do people realize that “earwitness” testimony is virtually worthless, particularly in the Dealey Plaza echo chamber?
    This observation can be countered by many more who state the opposite. If you want real evidence of where people felt the shot came from at the time look at contemporary pictures, the Altgens photo being the most striking.
    Miss McKinnon stated that ” hundreds” of people were standing on the Grassy Knoll. Hundreds.
    They is absolutely no photographic evidence for that statement.
    There is no evidence at all for that statement.
    You couldn’t put ” hundreds” of people on the Grassy Knoll – It isn’t that big.Was she even there in the first place? If someone makes a demonstrably false statement, why believe anything she says?

    • Stanley says:

      It would be like if Zapruder said “I stood, along with hundreds of others, on the concrete pedestal in Dealey Plaza, waiting for just one chance…etc.” Obviously he would not mean hundreds of others were on the concrete pedestal with him, but instead that there were hundreds of other people waiting with him in the sector of the city known as Dealey Plaza. Clearly that is what she meant.

    • Eric Saunders says:

      …Except of course for the eyewitness testimony that identifies Oswald as the shooter on the 6th floor which just happens to be wildly inaccurate yet matches the decription on the CIA report on “Oswald” in Mexico City.

      • Photon says:

        At least you can prove that witness was in Dealey Plaza and correctly identified that Oswald was wearing a different color shirt when shooting JFK than when he was arrested.
        There is absolutely no evidence that this woman was even in Dallas on Nov 22, 1963.

    • Gerry Simone says:

      Bugliosi would say that she must be recalling the hundreds who ran up to the knoll after the shots were fired.

      I have film footage compiled by Groden that shows hundreds of people racing to the knoll (so that you can fit that many people up around there).

      You can’t entirely dismiss ear-witness testimony. Only the Warren Commission or their proponent would say that, but not a court of law following rules of evidence, unless said witness can be reasonably rebutted.

      Do you know if the WC conducted echo tests to prove their dismissive hypothesis? As far as I know, they didn’t.

      Her account of puffs of smoke is corroborated by others, including the smell of gunpowder claim by Senator Yarborough who said that you can only sense that upwind (so hardly doubt it came from the TBSD).

    • Don says:


      She does not say hundreds were on the Grassy Knoll. She simply states “dozens were nearby”. I’m sure you are quite aware of the truth of that statement even though you have spun it twice. She clearly DOES NOT state dozens or hundreds were on the Grassy Knoll

  4. Photon says:

    The photo claimed by others to show Ms. McKinnon in Dealey Plaza was actually Doris Mumford.
    Her statements suggest that her story is a fraud

  5. Jg says:

    She’s not under oath she can say anything. If there was a shooter where she says he would have been seen.

  6. Tom says:

    Wondering when JFK made the decision not to use the clear bubble top that covered the back seat of his limousine. Was that bulletproof? Would be assassins may not have been able to plan for that not being present. A frontal shot might have been necessary for the plot, although I don’t recall ever seeing JFK use the bubble top.

    But thanks for the link to McKinnon. I did not know of her before.

    • echelon says:

      This is a good point.

      The planners would have had to prepare for a number of scenarios, including the use of the bubble top and the actual seating positions of people in the car. Therefore, a triangulated set of shooters makes sense, even if one knows nothing – ahem – about the mechanics of sniping. For example: behind the car, to the right (Grassy Knoll) and to the left (South Knoll). The President must not be allowed to escape alive. The kill would have been planned with shots only from the rear – to fit in with the patsy set-up – but the others would have been used as backup if needed (as indeed they were).

      Over many years of reading, I have come to my own conclusion that the Grassy Knoll was too exposed for snipers with rifles and so therefore any shooters in that location would probably have used hand-held guns which could be easily concealed afterwards. I still don’t know for sure if any shots came from there. As Stanley suggests elsewhere on this thread, the GN was probably used as a distraction for the real snipers (with rifles) located both behind the car and on the South Knoll. Pyrotechnics of some religion could be used there to create light, sound and smoke and would leave almost no trace behind.

      Of course, this is all hypothetical but this scenario seem to fit the observed evidence, including that presented over many years by Sherry Fiester.

      • B Binnie says:

        Why couldnt the President leave Dallas alive? The more you consider it, the more it is very reasonable. The Patsy had some awareness of the plot it seems. What if he was told that someone was going to take some pot shots at JFK while LHO hung out in the lunch room and then afterward LHO would leave the building , hook up up with confederates and disappear for a while, knowing that when a phony trail of evidence pointed to the shooter absconding to Cuba, JFK would have no choice but to invade Cuba and put Castro out to pasture. When LHO hears that JFK has actually been slaughtered and his ride doesnt materialize, he gets rather manic and needs to get a hand gun pronto- Maybe LHO is double crossed but since he is part of something, he cannot spill his guts and is very interested in getting representation ASAP to learn how to navigate the maze he is lost in- There is no doubt that shooters dressed as Policemen and Secret Service personel with the most advanced possible rifles and bullets were behind the fence and on the overpass and fired the fatal shot- Multiple people saw them before and after- When confronted they could easily be portayed as first responders in the Dallas Police Parking Area. And we know that Ruby is using ordinance that turns LHO internal organs into jelly so only one shot is needed-

  7. Robert Fernandez says:

    I always wonder what people are trying to demonstrate by presenting this kind of evidence. Eyewitnesses get things wrong constantly, and singling out one of hundreds smacks of confirmation bias. I don’t know what college student with no known experience with forensics or firearms has to add to our knowledge of what happened that day.

    • Thomas says:

      The greatest example of confirmation bias is the work of the Warren Commission and the way information was gathered (and rejected) to support a lone gunman conclusion.

      She sounds reasonable and balanced to me. She says she saw smoke so it’s not just what she heard. She wasn’t alone in her observations.

      • Robert Fernandez says:

        Lots of people are “reasonable and balanced” and quite capable of being mistaken about something. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person, but quite irrelevant to knowing what happened that day.

        • Gerry Simone says:

          Too dismissive. There were many others who claimed to have heard shots from that direction. Some from both directions.

          If she was the only person, and the rest said echoes, than perhaps you can say she’s wrong, but this isn’t the case here.

  8. Photon says:

    As soon as McKinnon wrote that there were “hundreds” of people on the Grassy Knoll her story went down the drain, as any serious researcher knows. Her story smacks of being invented after reading about the event but not knowing that the Grassy Knoll was virtually empty. Aside from the article in what I believe was the Chula Vista Star News at the time this person doesn’t appear again, except in books and articles that publish verbatim from the same article.
    Not only is there no proof for her claims as reported in the article, there is no proof that she was ever in Dallas or attended SMU.
    Is this another “factoid”- a statement unsupported by any facts that gets accepted as Gospel after being published in a neighborhood biweekly and then regurgitated verbatim in the conspiracy literature? It appears so.

    • John Kirsch says:

      Why did you mention SMU, by which I assume Southern Methodist University? The McKinnon article, if it’s genuine, doesn’t mention SMU.

    • John Kirsch says:

      In fact, the McKinnon “article” doesn’t even say explicitly that McKinnon, if that was her real name, was in college. It simply says, at one point, “As a journalism major in school.”

  9. Stanley says:

    Given the latest forensic ideas about a cone of trajectory encompassing the South Knoll, the puffs of smoke and bangs on the North Knoll would make sense as pyrotechnic distractions.

    If so it certainly worked to get everyone including the police, the public, and therefore the photographers all intensely focused on that area, perhaps exactly opposite to where the shots may have come from on the South Knoll. It would also eliminate the need to evacuate a shooter unseen since there wouldn’t actually be one up there. Just the guy or guys who set them off. It would also be consistent with Bower’s observations of a couple of people, a flash or smoke, but no gun or shooter.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Films and photos show a large number of persons — men, women, cops — raced up the grassy incline toward the picket fence within moments after the last shot. Some saw and some smelled smoke, gun smoke.

    The comments here about earwitness testimony are inapposite. The facts speak for themselves.

    • Jeff Pascal says:

      I find McKinnon’s statements very interesting, since they support O’Donnell, Powers,the Newman’s, SSA Landis, J. Hill, Curry, Sorrells, Holland,Simmons, Dodd,Altgens,Brehm and others, that many of the closest witnesses initial impressions is hearing at least one shot coming from up on the the grassy knoll, not the TSBD, or surrounding buildings, or the south knoll area. When combined with the ZFilm, the Parkland, and Bethesda Medical personnel’s observations I find that compelling.

  11. Photon says:

    Let me throw out a challenge .
    Can anybody find any documentation aside from this single neighborhood newspaper article that this person even existed? Is there any evidence that there is a single mention of this person anywhere prior to Nov,1981?
    Jeff, do you remember Janet Cooke?

    • Paul says:

      Other thanthe fact that she said something you don’t like, do you have evidence she was not there? Do you think the San Diego newspaper did no editing?

      • Photon says:

        The onus of proving somebody is a witness is on the person that claims that person is a witness. The fact that there is no evidence this person was even in Dallas should have been a red flag to the conspiracy crowd that has used her article repeatedly and claimed that pictures showed her in Dealey Plaza.
        I have no idea what the editorial policies of the Chula Vista Star News were in the 1980s, when it was a twice weekly community paper.i I believe it was free then; it is now. I suspect that they were not very rigorous when it came to human interest stories, as this work of fiction reveals.

        • Thomas says:

          I think a serious researcher would be perfectly willing to let this case be classified as “interesting but unable to be authenticated.” I know I am.

          The argument of shots from the front doesn’t stand or fall based on this women’s article.

          • Photon says:

            Then why have so many conspiracy theorists been eager to use her as a reference? Why have several falsely claimed that the pictures of Doris Mumford were her? Why have conspiracy authors claimed that she was an SMU student when that isn’t even mentioned in the article?
            Lastly, why did Jeff think that her article was important enough to be highlighted on this blog when it seems that there is no other evidence that she exists?

    • Gerry Simone says:

      If the WC didn’t name Ernest Brandt, does that mean he never existed until he appeared on anniversaries in DP?

  12. echelon says:

    On this thread B Binnie wrote:

    “There is no doubt that shooters dressed as Policemen and Secret Service personel with the most advanced possible rifles and bullets were behind the fence and on the overpass and fired the fatal shot- Multiple people saw them before and after”.

    Now, I’m sure I’m going to regret asking this, but can you please give us some evidence (i.e. documented sources) to support these claims?

    • Photon says:

      Pure and simple. There isn’t any. It just another piece of nonsense put out by conspiracy theorists because it is easier to invent stories than to post facts. This whole McKinnon fiction should stand out as to what lengths the conspiracy community is willing to go to believe anything that supports its position, even to the point of ignoring easily identifiable falsehoods in a story that I dismantled in 24 hours.
      All I had to do was read the whole thing- which apparently none of the conspiracy authors that fell in love with the story bothered to do over the last two decades.
      I am still waiting for evidence that a Cheryl McKinnon even existed. She appears to have been the invention of a frustrated “reporter” who could get published only in a free throwaway suburban paper.

      • Gerry Simone says:

        There were spectators and a policeman who said they were confronted by a SSA.

        If this didn’t happen, the WC wouldn’t have investigated it in the first place.

        Please don’t try to re-write history.

    • George Simmons says:

      I think what we can say is that there is evidence to state that someone may have been impersonating a secret service agent in this area. From the WC testimony of Joe Marshall Smith, Dallas Police Department Officer:

      Smith: There was some Deputy Sheriff with me, and I believe one Secret Service man when I got there. 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.
      Q : Did you accost this man?
      Smith: Well, he saw me coming with my pistol and right away he showed me who he was.
      Q : Do you remember who it was?
      Smith : No Sir, I don’t.

      As far as I am aware the secret service stated they had no agents in that area, and all their agents were accounted for.

      • RJ says:

        Officer Harkness also reported an encounter with ‘Secret Service Agents’behind the TSBD. Don’t recall who he told that to, but it’s a second officer with such an encounter. From my recollection, no agents were on scene until Sorrels (sp) returned from Parkland Hospital.

  13. Melvin Fromme says:

    If Photon would spend less time trying to wreck Jeff’s endeavors & read back through the topics Jeff posted he’d run across a call for unknown by name witnesses to contact him here at his website & tell their story; a very generous opportunity in light of media lack of interest in pursuing witnesses that were never identified or came forward with their experiences during the assassination. One couple Jeff specifically asked information on was the black couple Marilyn Sitzman told Josiah Thompson she saw sitting on the bench a few yards from she & Abe Zapruder during the ambush.

    It appears to me in your many ‘Oswald did it’ postings here that Jeff’s progress is hitting a nerve with you, Photon. Perhaps he doesn’t banish you in order to let your own words sink your own anonymous LN ship?

    • Photon says:

      I post facts. This “witness” was a fraud. If that is uncomfortable to you I am sorry, but frankly Jeff jumped the shark on this topic by claiming that this work of fiction was proof of anything.
      I am amazed at how terrified some of the conspiracy community seem to be that people might actually look at evidence instead of accepting unsubstantiated claims without a critical eye.
      What almost certainly will happen is that in 2 or 3 months another conspiracy theorist will post this exact same story as a proven fact, assuming that the readers will never actually know the truth, just as in the manner of the Carlos Hathcock lie that has circulated on this blog at least twice in the last 12 months.
      People have wondered who I am. I am simply an interested individual with access to a computer and common sense.

      • Dave says:

        Whatever the provenance of Cheryl McKinnon’s account, which should be pursued diligently, let’s not overlook the account of Doris Mumford (as confirmed by her daughter Karen Moore in jfkassassinationforum): “…she said, “I heard three shots and saw the life leave the President’s face.” She said the shots came from behind her.”

        Three shots coming from BEHIND her location (facing JFK) on the north curb of Elm St. would be coming from the northwest (aka Grassy Knoll area). Doris Mumford therefore concurred with the lengthy list of dozens of earwitnesses who heard shots coming from elsewhere than the TSBD.

        • Gerry Simone says:

          Very good point.

          Just like Zapruder and/or Sitzman said that they heard a shot or shots from BEHIND them (so not the TSBD).

  14. John Kirsch says:

    I just received an email from the Chula Vista (CA) public library. The attachment contains reproductions of a special section published by The Star-News on 11/20/1983 to commemorate the 20th year since the assassination.
    The package includes a reproduction of the same article that the post links to.
    The attachment also includes a reproduction of an article headlined “Questions remain.” It ends with the sentence, “The real crime in the minds of many is that even after 20 years the American public still does not know the truth behind what happened that fateful day in Dallas.”
    The nation was approaching a milestone — 20 years since JFK’s violent death — and the paper wanted to commemorate that fact.
    Overall, I thought the package the paper put together was quite thoughtful.
    Having once been a reporter for a small newspaper, I know that they are quite capable of good journalism and this package appears to be an example of that.

  15. John Kirsch says:

    A woman I spoke to briefly at the paper said she did not remember McKinnon, but the woman I spoke with cautioned that she had only worked at the paper for 5 years.

  16. John Kirsch says:

    Theoretically, I suppose it’s possible that McKinnon could have been identified as a “staff writer” for The Star-News for the purpose of including her first-person account in the special package the paper ran on 11/22.. On the other hand, ANYTHING is theoretically possible.
    I would say, as someone who worked as a reporter for several small papers (though no “free” ones), that if McKinnon was not a staff writer, but simply a community member who offered to write about her memories of being in Dealey Plaza, or if the paper asked her to write something, then the paper would have made clear that she was NOT a staff writer.
    The article would probably have been accompanied by a squib stating that the article was “special to The Star-News” and that the writer was a local resident offering her recollections of 11/22.
    The editors would have been eager to get such a first-person perspective into the special package they ran on 11/22.
    My point is that, in my experience, it is highly unlikely that McKinnon would have been identified as a staff writer if she hadn’t been one.

  17. Alex d says:

    I was in dealey plaza on the 50th anniversary of that tragic day.my observation and everyone I talked to talk there also agreed that the grassy knoll area is way smaller in Person than it appears on film.i was fortunate to talk to several eye witnesses from nov1963 and each one said that two shots were in rapid succession which means bye bye line nut theory.each eye witness stated to me that sound that first heard was no doubt gunfire.why didNot one secret service agent guarding the president react to the first shot,if un trained people heard them.dealeyplaza is like a natural amphitheater and the gun is magnified much louder.if you have any doubts about this go to dealey plaza yourself.go to the 6th floor tbd and see what everyone else can see and that is if lone nut why pass up an easy shot coming towards you in Houston st and slowing down to turn onto elm st???denying multiple shooters at this time means your just in denial of numerous facts of 11-22-1963

  18. Karen Moore says:

    In regards to Cheryl McKinnon, she has been placed at the grassy knoll by an article that she wrote about 20 years after the JFK event. A reporter at the time, Gary Mack, evidently matched the photo of a woman laying on the grassy knoll by the Newman family to this article with no substantiative data connecting the two items. It has been around for some 30 years as a connection when, in fact, Cheryl McKinnon may have indeed been somewhere on the knoll but the photo/video in Wiegman, Bell, Stoughton, etc. is indeed Doris Mumford. I know that because Doris Mumford is my Mother.


    You can read some of my story at the above link.

    I hope this helps to clarify the situation as it only came to light for me in 2013. I never imagined that another name would have been associated with my Mother in my wildest dreams. Where Ms. McKinnon was situated, I have no idea.

    Thank you for allowing me to continue to put this matter to rest.


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