Seven reasons why Oswald’s first shot was not fired at or near Zapruder frame Z160.
Reason One: The Zapruder Film Itself.
Do you remember your reaction the first time you heard a live rifle round being fired? You flinched. Some of you jumped right out of your skins. You were startled at how unexpectedly loud it was, even if you were prepared for it. There are at least 63 people in Z160, not including anyone in the motorcade or escort. They were not expecting any such “painfully loud” explosion. Nearly all would have flinched in unison. Many would have instinctively turned toward the source of the rifle fire, the sixth floor of the TSBD. Everyone lining Elm Street, most evidently the women in the foreground, would have reacted. If Gov. Connally and Rosemary Willis responded to a rifle blast, why did no one else in these frames as much as bat an eye? The faster Connally turned to his right, the more certain others would have also shown startle movements. Yet there were none. The Governor turned to his right to look at the crowd for the hundredth time during the motorcade, and 10-year-old Rosemary Willis turned in response to being called by her father Phil.
Reason Two: Career-Trained Witnesses.
You could not ask for a more perceptive group of witnesses to be assembled in one place: the nation’s senior journalists, top-of-the-line Secret Service agents and Dallas City and County law enforcement officers. All are career-trained to accurately observe and report events. That’s their job. Most testified that the first shot occurred as the limousine was turning from Houston onto Elm or in the process of completing its turn, about six seconds earlier than Z160: Secret Service agents Paul Landis and Clint Hill, Chief Criminal Deputy Allan Sweatt and journalists Robert H. Jackson and Tom C. Dillard among many others. One 13-year-old girl, Tina Towner, disagreed, claiming that the shot came after she had stopped filming. Ten-year-old Rosemary Willis also contradicted these professionals. Which witnesses do you choose to believe? All witnesses are not equal. Our beliefs must be tempered by a development of discriminating standards.
Z160 shows the Presidential limousine and the Secret Service follow-up car having completed the turn and proceeding down Elm Street. There’s a large gap, and then the Vice President’s car making the turn, just about where the President’s limo was when the first shot was fired, according to these career-trained witnesses. Can they be ignored?
Reason Three: The Timing of Oswald’s Three Shots.
A tough-to-ignore majority of witnesses testified to a significantly greater time interval between the first two shots and the last two: Victoria Adams, Barbara Rowland, Arnold Louis Rowland, Chief Criminal Deputy Allan Sweatt, and journalist Robert H. Jackson, among many others. Do we discount them all?
We know from the Zapruder film that 4.9 seconds elapsed between the second shot at Z224 and the third at Z313. Yet only 3.5 seconds elapsed between Z160 and Z224. That would mean Oswald completely missed everything at or near Z160, but then within the next 3.5 seconds managed to operate the bolt— up, back, forward and down— acquire the target in the scope’s crosshairs and fire a near-perfect strike just as the President was coming into view from behind the oak tree. For those with marksmanship experience, there are more plausible explanations.
Reason Four: The Necessity of Sighting-In the Rifle.
The primary rule in firing for accuracy is that you must first sight-in, or zero, your weapon. Even the greenest marksman knows you don’t just pick up a rifle and start shooting. Oswald knew from experience that his Carcano would never hold its zero (remain sighted-in) after being disassembled and reassembled. He had learned that lesson by his failure to hit Gen. Walker. A minimum of eight or nine seconds is required to re-zero with the first shot, placing it much earlier than Z160.
Reason Five: Why the First Shot Missed.
Is there any better explanation for the first shot completely missing the limousine than that it wasn’t aimed at the car to begin with? Oswald used the first shot for the indispensable task of sighting-in his carbine and it ‘missed’ because it was aimed at another specific target in Dealey Plaza. He chose a target that would kick up some dust and could easily be seen by him but few others. Would you rather believe it silently hit a tree branch or a traffic light support pole and bounced so far away it was never located? Or would you rather believe the ex-Marine accidentally squeezed the trigger and let loose an unintended high-powered rifle shot God knows where? Oswald hit his target both times he tried. He wasn’t aiming at the President with the first shot.
Reason Six: Splices in Three Films.
Seven critical frames were deliberately removed from the Tina Towner film, just at the point where the limousine was making the turn onto Elm Street (after frame T084). And four telltale frames from two different copies of the Zapruder film were spliced out, just before the President disappeared behind the Stemmons Freeway sign (Z208‒Z211). The Towner film and one of the Zapruder copies were spliced while in possession of the FBI. In the latter case, the cover-up excuse was a “lab accident.” In the former, the Towner splice is precisely where credible career-trained witnesses said they heard the first shot (see Reason Two) and the FBI couldn’t tolerate an early first shot.
Reason Seven: Incorrect Assumptions.
There is no logical reason to assume that Abe Zapruder’s film captured all three shots. There are practical real-world reasons why it didn’t. Once we learn what Oswald already knew, the need to sight-in his re-assembled Carcano to achieve the required accuracy, it becomes clear why the first shot was fired and therefore when it was fired. The time it took to re-zero mandated an early first shot, well before Zapruder began his famous sequence at Z133.
(As a surprising oddity, another filmer did capture all three shots. But it wasn’t Abraham Zapruder.)
For the complete detailed analysis and supporting evidence, see The Final Truth: Solving the Mystery of the JFK Assassination.
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