(PART 858)


I have long wondered why it took so long for police to find the 6th floor sniper's nest. The sniper's nest was found after 1 p.m. One would have thought that it would have been easily found within minutes of the assassination, with Howard Brennan and Amos Euins both reporting to police in less than ten minutes that they saw a man shooting from that window.

However, reading through various accounts again, more closely, it's now apparent why it took so long — miscommunications and noncommunications.

Officer Marrion Baker is the first to enter the Depository Building, within a minute of the last shot. But having seen a flock of pigeons alight from the roof in reaction to the gunfire, he believes the shots came from the roof, and spends his time looking there and on the 7th floor below the roof, before he descends on the elevator.

At 12:35 p.m., Officer B.W. Hargis calls over police radio that a witness said the shots came from the building, the first broadcast naming that location.

A minute later, Amos Euins approaches Sgt. D.V. Harkness to say he saw a man fire a rifle from a window in the building, on the floor "under the ledge", which makes it the 6th floor — a decorative ledge goes around the building between the 6th and 7th floors. But Harkness mistakenly radios in that the witness said the shots came "from the fifth floor of the Texas Depository Bookstore". Harkness also tells Inspector Sawyer the 5th floor. Harkness goes in and takes the elevator just inside the main entrance to its limit — the fourth floor. As he is on that floor, he talks briefly with Office Baker, who is coming down the rear elevator from the 7th floor. Finding nothing on the 4th floor, Harkness returns to the first floor and the entrance.

At about the same time, Howard Brennan approaches Officer W.E. Barnett in front of the building to tell him he saw the man who fired the rifle, "one window from the top," pointing to the southeasternmost window on the sixth floor.

At 12:39, Motorcycle Officer E.D. Brewer, about 3/4 of a block from the building, radios in, "We have a man here that saw [a gunman] pull a weapon back through the window on the second floor on the southeast corner of that Depository building," no doubt meaning to say second floor from the top, since photos taken before, during, and after the assassination show the 2nd floor windows on that corner were closed. Another miscommunication.

Inspector Sawyer, at the front of the building, radios at 12:42 for more officers. Officer Barnett brings Howard Brennan to Inspector Sawyer. Brennan "pointed out the window which I now note to be the sixth floor, but when I talked to him, I thought it was the fifth floor." At 12:44, Sawyer broadcasts Brennan's description of the shooter, but does not include what floor or window he was seen at.

At 12:45, Sgt. G.D. Henslee at the police radio dispatcher's office, broadcasts in answer to an inquiry, "Well, all the information we have receive … indicates that it did come from about the 5th or 4th floor of that building."

At 12:50, Forrest Sorrels of the Dallas office of the Secret Service talks to Brennan and Euins about the gunman they saw. Both specify the 6th floor window. As Brennan talks to Sorrels, James Jarman and Harold Norman come out the entrance, and Brennan recognizes them from the 5th floor windows below the shooter. Jarman and Norman are told to stay inside the building, and they and their third companion on the 5th floor, Bonnie Ray Williams, are not immediately interviewed.

Sorrels then escorts Brennan and Euins across the street to make statements at the Sheriff's Office, intending not to stay long. But he is stopped on his way out and told there is another witness in the office whom Sorrels should talk to, Arnold Rowland, whom Sorrels does stay to interview. In any case, Sorrels' knowledge of the specific window that Brennan and Euins pointed to is not shared with those at the Depository building itself.

Police Captain Will Fritz arrives at the building at 12:58, accompanied by two detectives and the Sheriff. Brennan, Euins and Sorrels are not present. Fritz and company enter and go up the front elevator to the 2nd floor, see officers stationed there, and proceed to the 3rd and 4th floor, finding officers already stationed there too. The elevator goes up no further, so they go to the back elevators and up to the 5th floor. They make a quick search along the windows on the front and west side, then go up to the sixth. Fritz and the two detectives walk up to the 7th floor, while the rest begin inspecting the 6th.

The 6th floor sniper's nest, with its empty cartridge cases and paper bag, is discovered at 1:06 p.m.



I have wondered the same thing. Excellent research that answers the question. The DPD were completely unprepared to handle anything of this magnitude. They were thinking of people on the street waving protest signs.

What should have happened is surround and seal the building first, then assemble as many officers as possible in teams to search floor by floor in a methodical manner.

Individual officers like Baker who went charging up the stairs could have been shot dead, and would have been if LHO had not left his pistol at home. One book claims the sheriff deputy on the roof got off one shot at LHO that missed, but caused him to run. No evidence to support that contention.

Wonder why he didn't locate LHO after 3 shots? And to leave the wooden fence unguarded is a major gap in security. As we know, there was no one up there anyway, but at least one police officer should have been posted there.

The TSBD building with open windows was the major problem. Either the closed window policy should have been enforced or the parade never should have been allowed past such a building. All law enforcement agencies share the blame on this tragedy for so many security gaps. It tells me no one expected any serious problems that day, just a few unruly protesters if anything and ironically none showed up.


Good stuff, yeuhd.

But I thought the Sniper's Nest was discovered at 1:12 PM, not 1:06. And the rifle was discovered exactly 10 minutes later, at 1:22.

That's not a big difference (obviously), but the 1:12 time is stuck in my mind.


To augment your analysis above,

I'm wondering if part of the delay in finding Oswald's shooting perch/lair/nest was due to the fact that the police were still of the opinion that the gunman might very well still be inside the building when it was sealed off at 12:37 PM. [See the WC testimony of Captain Fritz on this matter, at 4 H 204-205.]

Therefore, the police were undoubtedly proceeding through the building at a very cautious and deliberate pace AFTER the building was sealed off (vs. barreling, full steam, from floor to floor during the time period after 12:37 PM).

For confirmation of what I just said (via the video below), we can turn to a civilian witness who was on hand in the Book Depository--WFAA-TV cameraman Tom Alyea.

Alyea literally accompanied the police, practically step-by-step, during the floor-by-floor search of the Depository Building that day (because Alyea and Kent Biffle were, in a sense, trapped in the building after getting inside just before the sealing off of the TSBD).

Now, why on Earth the police didn't tell Alyea to just stay put on the first floor (and hence, out of the police department's hair)....or why the cops didn't simply open the front door for two seconds and escort Alyea and Biffle out of this now-restricted building known as the Texas School Book Depository is something that I will never understand at all.

But, anyway, Alyea and Biffle were allowed to stay in the building (apparently for hours) after they got locked inside, with Alyea even being permitted to film all kinds of activity on the sixth floor (aka: the crime scene).

Alyea is featured in the following video from November 1993, with Tom providing quite a bit of information about his actions right after the assassination. And according to Mr. Alyea, the police were certainly thinking in the first several minutes after the assassination that they might have the shooter (or shooters) trapped inside the building.

So I'm thinking that that situation would account for at least a portion of the delay in finding the location of Oswald's Sniper's Nest on the sixth floor.

The video starts at the point where Alyea is introduced by Hugh Aynesworth. And as a footnote here, if Aynesworth could have kept his mouth shut and let Alyea talk uninterrupted for a few minutes longer, we would have been treated to lots more interesting information from Tom, but Hugh wouldn't even let Alyea get to the point in his story where he filmed the rifle being discovered on the sixth floor. I'm sorry to say it (since I like Mr. Aynesworth very much), but Hugh was not a very good moderator during this segment of the 1993 program he was hosting here. But, anyway, we get to hear at least a portion of Tom Alyea's story:


Officer Luke Mooney, who discovered the sniper's list while on the 6th floor, testified that he didn't look at his watch, but said "it was approaching 1 o'clock. It could have been 1 o'clock."

Captain Fritz in his testimony gives 1:22 for the discovery of the rifle, but when asked when the shells were found, he said he did not have that time.

The police report by Sims and Boyd says that the empty cartridges were found about 1:15 p.m.

I'm getting the 1:06 time from Bugliosi, but where he got it from I don't know.


Upon looking over this discussion again today [12/4/2014], I again want to commend yeuhd for the valuable timeline information provided here, chronicling the things that many of the police officers and witnesses did immediately after the shooting of President Kennedy.

Very nice job indeed. Thank you.

David Von Pein
February 5, 2010
December 4, 2014