32 Photographs of the Events Surrounding JFK’s Assassination


John F. Kennedy, the 35 President of the United States, was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963 while riding in a motorcade in Dealey Plaza with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife, Nellie. Kennedy had been in Texas to ease relations in the Democratic Party between Connally and the more liberal members of the party. Kennedy was fatally shot by former U.S. marine, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Many bystanders said they heard what they first thought to be a firecracker or the backfire of one of the vehicles in the motorcade. According to the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Kennedy was waving to the crowds on his right with his right arm upraised on the side of the limousine when a shot entered his upper back, penetrated his neck and slightly damaged a spinal vertebra at the top of his right lung. The bullet exited his throat nearly centerline just beneath his larynx and hit the knot of his tie.

Governor Connally was hit in the back, with the same bullet, just below the armpit. It exited his chest and hit him again in the arm, just above the right wrist, shattering his right radial bone. The bullet then exited just below the wrist at the inner side of his right palm and lodged in his inner left thigh.

According to the Warren Commission, a second shot struck the president after this. It was inconclusive as to whether this was the second or third shot fired. The second shot hit the president in the rear of his head, (the House Select Committee placed the entry wound four inches higher than the Warren Commission placed it).

The presidential limousine was passing a grassy knoll on the north side of Elm Street at the time of the fatal shots. As the motorcade left the plaza, police and spectators ran up the knoll but found no sniper. S.M. Holland, who had been watching the motorcade, testified that “immediately” after the shots were fired, he spotted a plume of smoke arising from the trees by the fence. Lee Bowers, a railroad switchman sitting in a two story tower, had an unobstructed view of the fense atop the grassy knoll. He saw for men in the area who were acting “something out of the ordinary, sort of milling around.”

Howard Brennan, a pipefitter who was sitting across the street of the Texas School Book Depository, notified the police that he was watching the motorcade when he heard a shot come from above. He looked across the street to see a man with a rifle take a second shot from a corner window on the sixth floor. He saw the same man minutes earlier looking out the window.

52% of ear witnesses thought that all three shots came from the direction of the Texas School Book Depository. 32% thought that all the shots came from the grassy knoll. 9% thought the shots came from somewhere else entirely. 5% thought they heard shots from two different locations, 3% thought the shots came from directions consistent with both the knoll and depository both.

The Warren Commission additionally concluded that the three shots fired “were not evenly spaced. Most witnesses recalled that the second and third shots were bunched together.”

President Kennedy was declared dead at 1:00 p.m.. At 2:38, aboard Air Force One, Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office and became the 36 President of the United States of America.

President Kennedy and the first lady arrive at the Love Field airport in Dallas early on the morning of the assassination. Cecil W. Stoughton:National Archives and Records Administration
President Kennedy and the first lady arrive at the Love Field airport in Dallas early on the morning of the assassination. Cecil W. Stoughton:John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Texas Governor John Connally and his wife (front) sit with President and Mrs. Kennedy in their limousine just minutes before the assassination took place. Victor Hugo King:Library of Congress
President Kennedy’s motorcade passes the Texas School Book Depository just prior to the assassination. © CORBIS:Corbis via Getty Images
President Kennedy slumps over just after being shot. Getty Images
The president’s limousine travels down Elm Street immediately after the first shot was fired. Kennedy, largely obscured by the car’s rearview mirror, can be seen with his fist clenched in front of his throat while agents standing on the car behind the limousine look back toward the Texas School Book Depository, the entrance of which is visible just behind the tree. James William “Ike” Altgens/Associated Press
Mrs. Kennedy leans over the dying president as a Secret Service agent climbs onto the back of the car just after the shooting. Getty Images
Secret Service agent Clint Hill jumps aboard the presidential limousine to act as a protective shield for President Kennedy and the first lady moments after the shots were fired. Justin Newman:Associated Press:Wikimedia Commons
Policemen on motorcycles speed by while civilians lie on the grass and photographers capture the scene within seconds of the president being shot. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection:Library of Congress
Fearing that they were in the line of fire, onlookers Bill and Gayle Newman lie on the grass, sheltering their children, mere seconds after the president was shot. Frank Cancellare:Wikimedia Commons
Police running to investigate the top of the grassy knoll. jfkmurdersolved
Alleged shooter Lee Harvey Oswald poses for his mugshot following the assassination. November 23. Dallas Police Department
The sniper’s perch on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot President Kennedy, as seen within a few hours of the assassination. Bettmann:Contributor:Getty Images
The view from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository, from which Lee Harvey Oswald is thought to have shot President Kennedy, as seen approximately one hour after the assassination. Hulton Archive:Getty Images
Just a few blocks from the assassination site, the Marsalis Street Bus 1213 travels down Elm Street with Lee Harvey Oswald aboard, on his way home just minutes after the shooting. Wikimedia Commons