Eyewitness Account of the Murder of Kennedy’s Assassin Oswald
As millions watched during a nationwide live television broadcast Sunday morning, Nov. 24, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy just two days before, was being escorted by seven Dallas detectives out of the basement of City Hall. They were leading Oswald to an armored car that was waiting to transfer him to Dallas County Jail. Suddenly there was a blur as a man dressed in brown leaped out from the crowd of reporters, photographers, and television cameramen recording the scene. A local strip club owner named Jack Ruby thrust a pistol toward Oswald’s stomach and fired one fatal bullet before the policemen—or anyone in the startled television audience—could react. It was 11:21 local time, and Oswald would be dead in another hour and a half, dying in a hospital trauma room across the hall from where President Kennedy had died two days earlier. When Jack Ruby murdered Lee Harvey Oswald, he prevented the alleged assassin’s trial that might have shed some light on the mystery that clouds the killing of President Kennedy to this day.
One of the reporters witnessing Oswald’s transfer that fateful morning was Terry McGarry, a correspondent for United Press International. Here is his eyewitness account of what happened. This copyrighted article was published by the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) on Nov. 25, 1963:
Ruby Crouched, Then Lunged at Oswald
By Terry McGarry
(When Lee Harvey Oswald was fatally shot yesterday, United Press International correspondent Terry McGarry was standing five steps from him. This is McGarry’s story.)
Dallas (UPI)—It was 11:21 a.m. CST by my watch when Lee Harvey Oswald was brought through the swinging doors that lead from a small police office in the basement of City Hall.
Two detectives preceded him pushing open the doors. Two plainclothesmen held his arms and three more followed the suspect. Of the eight men in the group, only Oswald—in slacks, shirt, and crewneck sweater—looked calm. The detectives were grim.
They were taking Oswald, charged with murdering President Kennedy and a Dallas policeman Friday, from City Hall to Dallas County Jail, seven or eight blocks away.
Armored Car Set
The basement swarmed with police, afraid of an attempt upon Oswald’s life. Fearing that the attempt might come on the street, they got an armored car to transfer him, rather than use a paddy wagon or squad car.
The armored car was backed up to the entrance to the garage. The detectives propelled Oswald toward it.
I was behind a railing. As they brought Oswald out, I climbed over the railing. Stepping down, I glimpsed a brown blur. I could not see where it came from.
Oswald and the detectives had turned right, en route to the armored car. The brown blur—Jack Ruby—crouched and went toward Oswald. I could not see a pistol—the gunman’s back was to me—but I heard the gun crack. It happened five steps from where I stood. I measured the distance later.
Oswald slumped. I did not hear Ruby say anything. In a flash, a policeman grabbed his gun by the muzzle. Its barrel waggled back and forth until the policemen could jerk it out of Ruby’s grasp.
I backed out of the way. A policeman on a ramp crouched and aimed with his pistol. Eight policemen had piled on Ruby. I was directly between the pile of policemen and the officer pointing his gun.
I flattened myself against the wall with my arms straight out from my sides. Then I ran for a telephone.
While I talked to my office, a stretcher on wheels rolled past. Oswald lay on it, his head wobbling back and forth.
Oswald’s shirt was torn open. Just below his ribs on the left side was a small, blue-ringed hole. There was no blood. He made no sound.
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