The Witnesses

What they saw then. Who they are now.

Bill and Gayle Newman

Both 57, Mesquite
Then Electrician and housewife
Now Co-own an electrical contracting business

Gayle: “We knew the parade route, and we came on downtown, parked the car, and walked down the street until the crowd thinned out because the children were quite small. You could hear the sounds of the crowd and the car coming. And as the car turned the corner and came toward us, we heard a noise. I thought it was a firecracker. Then, as they got closer to us, directly in front of us, that other shot hit the side of his head, and we heard Jackie holler, ‘Oh, my God, no. They shot Jack!’ And Bill turned to us and said, ‘That’s it! Hit the ground!’ We put the children on the ground and shielded them with our bodies because we thought we were in direct cross fire.”

Bill: “My reaction at that moment was that we narrowly missed being shot by that third shot. I thought the shot must have come from behind because of the way President Kennedy reacted to it. My focus was on the car, and I reacted to what I saw in the car. You know, I just hate to see that interview of me on WFAA back then. I sound like I’m straight out of East Texas. But I said [when asked where the shots came from], ‘That little knoll, that little knoll back there’—something like that. And I did have a man tell me, you know, you’re the first person to use that term. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t confirm that.”

Pierce Allman

64, Highland Park
Then Director of production and programming at WFAA radio
Now President of Allman and Company, Dallas public relations firm

I remember thinking, instinctively, ‘I’ve got to get to a telephone.’ I ran into the depository building, asked the guy where the phone was, went inside, got on the phone, called the station, told them what happened. Put the phone down, ran upstairs, then realized, ‘Whoops! Need the phone,’ went back down, called back and said, ‘Just leave the line open, strap on a tape.’ No one ever challenged me. No one ever said, ‘Who are you? Who are you calling?’ And no one took charge. A lot of uniforms milling around, a lot of plainclothesmen milling around.

The Secret Service came to see me a couple of days later. They went through the timing, the sequence, where did you go, what did you say, what did you do, and they kept going through that. They wanted to know about hand gestures, the whole thing. And they said, ‘Are you familiar with the testimony of Lee Harvey Oswald?’ They said that he stated that as he was leaving the depository building, a young man with a crew cut rushed up, identified himself as a newsman, and asked where the phone was. And they said, ‘Your sequence, your gestures, everything you’ve said corroborates exactly what he has said. Can you give us an identification?’ I said no. And we went through this time after time. I said, ‘Guys, this is going to be power of suggestion. All I can remember is white male with dark hair, and slender, and his gesture toward the phone.’ Anyway, I said, ‘Are you saying that I asked Oswald where the phone was?’ And they said yes, and they wanted an identification. And I couldn’t ID him, even after looking at the pictures, you know, later on.”

Bobby Hargis

66, Irving
Then Motorcycle patrolman, Dallas Police Department
Now Detective, Dallas Police Department (will retire in December)

I was trying to find out where those shots came from. I saw up on the grassy knoll people falling down—people around me were hitting the ground. I ran up to the grassy knoll to look at the railroad tracks and couldn’t see anybody up there. So I ran back down and got on my motorcycle, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe he might be on the other side.’ So I motored down underneath the underpass and looked on the other side and didn’t see anyone over there, so I came back. It struck my mind the president’s head went to his left, forward and left, so it meant that anything that hit him in the head had to come over his right shoulder. From that, I was looking up at the school book depository. I rode over there and that was when we all surrounded the school book depository and took our positions.

When Kennedy was shot in the head, brain matter and blood and stuff had all come over and hit me as I rode through it. Well, I did all the rest of these things that I talked about, then I walked over to the sheriff’s office, and while I was walking over to it, a guy came up to me and offered me $17,000 for my helmet. I told the guy, ‘You’re going to have to talk to the City of Dallas,’ because it didn’t belong to me. And [fellow police officer] Bud Brewer says, ‘Bob, you got something on your lip.’ And he flicked at it, and it was a piece of Kennedy’s brain and a piece of skull bone.

You know, I coined that word, for any better reason than saying ‘grassy bank’—I just said ‘grassy knoll.’ And it stuck.”

Rosemary Willis Roach

45, Amarillo
Then Fifth grader, Lakewood Elementary School
Now Works for an Amarillo telecommunications company

As the motorcade made the turn from Houston to Elm Street, they’d just gone a few feet when the first shot rang out. I didn’t know what it was, but I was looking for what I heard. And the pigeons immediately ascended off that roof of the school book depository building—that’s what caught my eye. The second shot that I heard came from behind my right shoulder. By that time the limousine had already moved farther down. And the next one, right after that, still came from the right but not from as

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