A beginners guide to the gunfire in Dealey Plaza

The JFK assassination story can be confusing. There are a vast array of conflicting theories, many of them bogus, stupid, preposterous, or baseless (like the one voiced by the man who will be president). Others are more plausible.

Even on the narrowest of factual questions–where did the first shot hit?–readers have to choose between Max Holland’s theory, Pat Speer’s rebuttal, or Dale Myer’s attack. And that’s just in the past month.

Readers who are new to the JFK assassination story (and those who aren’t) may want a dispassionate presentation of the evidence about the fatal gunfire before they decide what they think. If so, read on.

Dealey Plaza Witnesses

Origin of JFK gunfire according to witnesses. “TSBD” stands for Texas School Book Depository, which was behind the motorcade. “Knoll” signifies the parking lot area in front of the motorcade

As usual, the best place to start is the Mary Ferrell Foundation’s Web site.

At the core all of the arguments about the gunfire that killed Kennedy is the Warren Commission’s version of events, which critics dubbed “the Single Bullet Theory” (or SBT.)

Rex Bradford outlines the SBT and its various problems.

Also on Mary Ferrell site, historian Jerry McKnight addresses one of the most popular defenses of the SBT presented by the late Vincent Bugliosi.

What did people at the scene of the crime say about the gunfire? Here’s a compendium of what 216 witnesses said, as compiled by Stewart Galanor (with his graphical representation above.)

Here are quotes from those whose accounts conflicted with the official theory of a lone gunman.

As editor of JFK Facts, I do not push any particular JFK theory. On this site, readers review the best evidence and decide for themselves where the truth lies.




CIA & JFKFrom a 5-Star Amazon review of Jefferson Morley’s new ebook, CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.

The crown jewel of Mr. Morley’s work details his discovery that a retired CIA officer named George Joannides was called back to Washington to stall a re-investigation of the assassination by the House of Representatives in the late 1970s.

Morley’s latest investigation, CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files, available on Amazon, provides the fullest account of the role of CIA operations officers in the events leading to the death of JFK.





  1. Bogman says:

    The facts of the JFK case are so contested, the rabbit holes lurking in every corner, are overwhelming and, essentially, impossible to sort out.

    But we do one thing for sure. Helms lied to HSCA in the ’70s, under oath to Congress about what he knew about the case.

    Here’s the transcript (http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/jfkinfo2/jfk4/hscahelm.htm):

    Mr. DODD – Other than the anti-Castro assassination plots, was there any other information pertaining to a possible mode or means or opportunity to kill the President that you are aware of and that Warren Commission was not told about?
    Mr. HELMS – I am sorry, I don’t get the—
    Mr. DODD – Other than the assassination plots. We know about the defector, you volunteered that. We had the voluntary turning over of the opinion with regard to Nosenko. We know today we didn’t turn over relevant information with regard to these efforts to get rid of Castro. Are there other things that you can recall that might have had relevancy–things of importance, to the Warren Commission’s investigation of the assassination of an American President.
    Mr. HELMS – Well, I don’t know of any others. I can’t think of what they might have been, but then we might have been guilty of some other errors of omission, I don’t know. None come readily to mind. This didn’t come readily to mind at the time.

    Helms was the head of clandestine operations for the agency in the early 1960s who personally appointed George Joannides to supervise the DRE, who had the several well-publicized run-ins with Oswald in New Orleans.

    Helms didn’t mention the agency’s control of the DRE to the Warren Commission, and the agency told the HSCA their relationship with the DRE had ended by ’63.


    The interesting part is the CIA as an institution wanted to bury this direct connection to the DRE forever until Jefferson Morley discovered Joannides. Then the CIA stonewalled him for 10 years in court and have yet to reveal the nature of its relationship with the DRE during the time of Oswald for 50-plus years now.

    I used to think JFK’s death might have been directed by rogue agency officers, but top officers had to know about the CIA’s relationship with the DRE… Phillips did… Harvey did… Angleton must have… Dulles must have…

    They heard the public testimony of Helms deny he nor the agency withheld any relevant information in the death of a president from investigators.

    They did. And the agency as an institution still does.

    That should shiver the timbers of any freedom-loving American.

    And I believe if we press for the true reasons for their lies and obstruction, and the true nature of the agency’s relationship with the DRE leading up to the assassination, everything else will fall into place.

  2. GM says:

    The JFK assassination story can be confusing. There are a vast array of conflicting theories, many of them bogus, stupid, preposterous, or baseless (like the one voiced by the man who will be president). Others are more plausible.

    It is not just the number of conflicting theories that are the major problem, they are obviously part of it, but it is also the arguing over all of the minutiae of the assassination itself. Whether that be bullet trajectories, complex medical procedures and injuries, or another facet of the case and assassination. If you are either sceptical, or flat out disbelieve the official version of events, it is a hindrance to get bogged down in all the different arguments imo, which are almost impossible to win anyway, given the confusion around Dealey Plaza on the 22 November 1963.

    Perhaps it is time to construct a narrative purely based on documents and testimony, and be honest when it comes to the contentious questions, such as how many shots were fired, where did they come from, how many people were involved etc, and just be honest instead and say we do not know. A credible narrative would obviously have to include events before, during and after the assassination, but the most important thing would be to incorporate information that is as hard to refute as is possible. Otherwise we will continue to get bogged down in the minutiae and get diverted from what is important.

  3. Jeremy Gilbert says:

    Well, I’ve made the following points several times here and have yet to get a straight answer.

    1) The vast majority of witnesses say three – or fewer – shots were fired. Some 95%-97%, depending on which tally you go by.

    2) A similar vast majority of witnesses, while split on where the shots were fired from, nevertheless agree that the shots came from a single direction. Again, some 95% or so, depending which tally you go by.

    3) While many take issue with Howard Brennan’s testimony identifying Oswald as the sniper, there is no serious dispute that a sniper indeed shot from that window of the TSBD, as we have some 10 witnesses who either saw a sniper actually shoot, saw the rifle barrel in the window, or heard the bullet casings fall from the floor above, plus others who corroborated the spontaneous calling out of “I see a rifle” in that window.

    Therefore, using logic and the agreement of the vast majority of witness testimony, three shots were fired from a single location, that location being the TSBD. No other snipers were seen, and if witnesses saw a sniper from one location, but ear witnesses heard bullets fired from another direction, then logically those ear witnesses were confused about where the shots originated from.

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