In JFK Files: Holland’s Magic Bullet, Dale Myers critiques Max Holland’s recent writing on the first gunshot fired President Kennedy’s motorcade. Holland has argued that the first shot grazed the arm of a lamp post and missed the motorcade, hit a curb and injured bystander James Tague.
In characteristically sharp language, Meyers finds Holland’s version wanting in evidence and logic. Myers argues for the Warren Commission’s version of the gunfire.
JFK Facts contributor Pat Speer responded to Holland’s theory last week.
One of Myers’ stronger arguments in rebuttal to Holland is the testimony of Tague himself.
“One thing that I have always been positive about is that the first shot was not the shot that hit the curb near me…” Tague wrote in 2003.
The weakest part of Myers’ argument is this claim that Tague was hit by the ricochet of a fragment of a bullet from a shot fired by Oswald from the Texas Schoolbook Depository that first hit President Kennedy in the head. (I apologize if you have to read that sentence twice; its a complicated scenario.)
The Warren Commission did not make this argument, saying only that the first or second shot missed altogether and struck a curb, resulting in Tague’s wound. The imprecision of the Warren Commission account is indicative of its larger weakness.
In a shameful display of historical denial, James Tague was given no place in Dallas’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination. Such was the official desire to avoid the JFK facts that one of the victims of a historic crime was purposefully excluded from its commemoration, probably because of his independent thinking. Tague wrote a book arguing that Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy. Tague died in 2014.
What the Evidence Says
I’m no forensic expert but I think Pat Speer’s critique of Holland is more convincing and less convoluted than Myers’.
In larger perspective, the gunfire scenario most supported by evidence comes from the testimony of John and Nellie Connally. They said that they believed first shot hit President Kennedy in the back and the second shot hit Governor Connally in the back.They said this right after the assassination and they said it for the rest of their lives.
Tague said he was hit and injured after the first shot. Since he couldn’t have been hit by the two bullets that hit JFK and Connally he must have been hit by another shot. Yet another shot hit President Kennedy in the head. If the Connallys and Tague were right, there were at least four shots, which means there were two gunmen and the president was ambushed by enemies.
At least 21 law enforcement officers at the scene of the crime thought one of the shots had come from in front of the motorcade. If there was a second gunman, he has never been persuasively identified.
For that its worth, Jackie Kennedy told friends that her recollection of the gunfire was very different than the Warren Commission asserted. She also told her friend William Walton that she thought he husband had been killed by “a major domestic conspiracy.”
Myers doesn’t address this evidence.
Below you can see a graphic interpretation of the gunfire, set forth by the FBI, which was memorialized in a postcard from early 1964. The Warren Commission abandoned this scenario, at least in part because it could not account for Tague’s wound.
The Warren Commission avoided this account of the crime in favor of the so-called “single bullet theory,” which, as many have pointed out, has problems of its its own. Holland, to his credit, has tried to resolve some of these problems. Myers is skilled at attacking critics but less successful at explaining away the manifest problems of the single-bullet theory.