Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"It sounded like a firecracker."


80 witnesses claim they heard firecracker sounds during the early moments of the assassination.


A firecracker sound is exactly the sound that you hear when a bullet travels through a windshield.


WITNESS #1 ALLEN DULLES, Former CIA Director, fired by President Kennedy as CIA Director and Warren Commission Member leading the investigation of that body:


“…Most of the witnesses have indicated they thought it was a backfire; the first shot was a backfire or a firecracker.”

WC report Vol. 4 p. 145


#2 ROY KELLERMAN ( Kellerman’s FBI report)

(Secret Service Agent seated in passenger seat of JFK Limousine during the assassination)

"Among those ten agents (The Secret Service Agents including Agent Glenn Bennett) ... six initially thought they heard firecrackers going off, three immediately recognized the sound as gunfire, and one believed that he heard a motorcycle backfiring....” –John Canal, Silencing the Lone Assassin


November 27, 1963, FBI REPORT


Kellerman said he heard a noise like a firecracker.

Kellerman stated that he had been in almost daily contact for the past three years with the President, and said he could pick his voice out from any group of people. Upon hearing a noise like a firecracker, he distinctly and positively heard the President say "My God, I’ve been hit". Kellerman advised he immediately turned his head to the left rear and almost instantaneously heard two additional shots.

Roy Kellerman interviewed by Arlen Specter, John S. Cooper and Gerald Ford on behalf of the Warren Commission (9th March, 1964)
Arlen Specter: All right. Now, describe what occurred as you proceeded down Elm Street after turning off of Houston. Roy Kellerman: As we turned off Houston onto Elm and made the short little dip to the left going down grade, as I said, we were away from buildings, and where there was a sign on the side of the road which I don't recall what it was or what it said, but we no more than passed that and you are out in the open, and there is a report like a firecracker, pop. And I turned my head to the right because whatever this noise was I was sure that it came from the right and perhaps into the rear, and as I turned my head to the right to view whatever it was or see whatever it was, I heard a voice from the back seat and I firmly believe it was the President's, "My God, I am hit," and I turned around and he has got his hands up here like this.”






Mr. ALTGENS - I made one picture at the time I heard a noise that sounded like a firecracker--I did not know it was a shot, but evidently my picture, as I recall, and it was almost simultaneously with the shot--the shot was just a fraction ahead of my picture, but that much---of course at that time I figured it was nothing more than a firecracker, because from my position down here the sound was not of such volume that it would indicate to me it was a high-velocity rifle.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you have any idea where the sound came from when you were standing there at No. 3 on Commission Exhibit No. 354?
Mr. ALTGENS - Well, it sounded like it was coming up from behind the car from my position--I mean the first shot, and being fireworks--who counts fireworks explosions? I wasn't keeping track of the number of pops that took place, but I could vouch for No. 1, and I can vouch for the last shot, but I cannot tell you how many shots were in between. There was not another shot fired after the President was struck in the head. That was the last shot--that much I will say with a great degree of certainty.
Mr. LIEBELER - What makes you so certain of that, Mr. Altgens?
Mr. ALTGENS - Because, having heard these shots and then having seen the damage that was done on this shot to the President's head, I was aware at that time that shooting was taking place and there was not a shot--I looked--I looked because I knew the shot had to come from either over here, if it were close range, or had to come from a high-powered rifle.


#4 MALCOLM KILDUFF: Acting Press Secretary / Dallas Trip:

(riding in the Presidential Motorcade / five cars behind Presidential Limousine)


“My thought process-you may think I am absolutely crazy that I can remember my thought process-but my thought process was that we were a week away from Thanksgiving. And that we were in Texas, and fireworks.  And I said it must be a firecracker.  This is between the first and second shot.” High Treason 2 by Harrison Edward Livingstone


[Mr. Kilduff also announced to the world on film that there was a shot that hit the President in his right temple.]


#5 JAMES TAGUE’S TESTIMONY: wounded by a shot at the President.


The testimony of James Thomas Tague was taken at 8:15 p.m., on July 23, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.


Mr. TAGUE. Well, I was standing there watching, and really I was watching to try to distinguish the President and his car. About this time I heard what sounded like a firecracker. Well, a very loud firecracker. It certainly didn't sound like a rifle shot. It was more of a loud cannon-type sound. I looked around to see who was throwing firecrackers or what was going on and I turned my head away from the motorcade and, of course, two more shots. And I ducked behind the post when I realized somebody was shooting after the third shot. After the third shot, I ducked behind the bridge abutment and was there for a second, and I glanced out and just as I looked out, the car following the President's car, the one with the Secret Service men, was just flying past at that time.


#6 CAROLYN WALTHER: eyewitness at the assassination


“The President passed us, and he was smiling, and everybody was waving. Then the last of the cars went by, and I heard the shot. I thought it was a firecracker. Then I started back to work, and it was along the curb, and then two shots right together, and then another one. I'm sure there were four shots. The Warren Report: Part 1, CBS Television (25th June, 1967)


#7 MARY ELIZABETH WOODWARD: Dallas Morning News Reporter


One of the many witnesses to the assassination of President Kennedy was a young junior reporter from the DALLAS MORNING NEWS named Mary Elizabeth Woodward, who was standing on the north side of Elm St. with three other female colleagues (Maggie Brown, Aurelia Lorenzo and Ann Donaldson) next to the large sign that momentarily impaired Abraham Zapruder’s view of the motorcade. Despite being close to the Lincoln convertible carrying the Kennedys and the Connallys, none of the four women were interviewed by either the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department or by the Warren Commission itself. The only official statement given by Miss Woodward was to the FBI on December 6, 1963, published as Commission Exhibit No. 2084…

[Miss Woodward wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News printed November 23, 1962.] Certainly the content of her article gave no hints of shots being fired from behind the motorcade, except for the first being described as sounding like a firecracker.

The Third Decade, July 1992, pp. 24-26.


#8 JAMES UNDERWOOD: eyewitness at the assassination:

(news reporter on Houston Street at the time of the shots)


April 1, 1964: “I believe I said to one of the other fellows it sounds like a giant firecracker … Now, the first [shot] was just a loud explosion but it sounded like a giant firecracker or something had gone off.” [Warren Commission testimony: 6H169]


#9 MALCOLM SUMMERS: witness to the assassination


(Summers was standing on the south side of Elm Street across from the grassy know at the time of the shooting.  He was extremely close to the Presidential limousine)

“I’m a Republican but he (JFK) was a Democrat I voted for so I wanted to get close.  I was sick for two weeks after it happened.  I couldn’t believe it happened in Dallas,  I was right next to the car when Jackie crawled on the back and helped pull the FBI guy (acutally SS).  I heard three shots.  The first shot came right after the car turned the corner (Houston & Elm Streets)-and I thought it was more like the sound of a firecracker and I thought, ‘Well, that’s a cheap trick.”  And I saw the FBI guys (SS) looking around on the ground like that was what they thought too.”

(Oral History Collection at Sixth Floor Museum, March 7, 2002)



#10 WILMA BOYD: eyewitness / her testimony during the Garrison Trial of Clay Shaw


Q: And did you hear any unusual noises in Dealey Plaza?

A: I heard what I thought was a firecracker, a firecracker.

Q: And what were you doing at the time you heard this noise?

A: I was trying to take a picture of the building, or I mean the corner there, and that is when I realized that I had not cocked my camera and I felt, well, when I heard what I thought was a firecracker.


#11 FRANCES GAYLE NEWMAN: eyewitness to the assassination / her testimony during the Garrison Trial of Clay Shaw


Q: Did you hear any unusual noises?

A: I heard three of what I thought at first were firecrackers -- three shots.


#12 BILL NEWMAN (on the north side of Elm Street, near the Presidential limousine

at the time of the shooting), November 22, 1963:


 “… what I thought was a firecracker had went off ….”

[Sheriff’s Department affidavit: 19H490]

#13 TONI FOSTER: eyewitness to the assassination


“I heard two firecracker-like sounds and I looked up because it sounded like it was coming from up in the air. At the time, I thought, “Those sound like firecrackers.” To me it was click-click;

they were just that fast. As I thought that and I looked towards the president I didn’t know he was already shot. Because when I did look at him that’s when the third shot hit and his head went down like that [puts her head to her chest]. I looked at him, I noticed he took his hands and did like this [brings her hands up and crossed at her chest], his head came down. I thought, “I wonder what he’s doing? Why did he do that?” As I’m thinking that – that fast – the 4th shot, the last shot, hit and his head exploded. So to me it was four shots. I do recall after that, the shell, I could hear that clink.” Running Woman Toni Foster, by Debra Conway, 2000.

#14 MARILYN SITZMAN: eyewitness to the assassination standing next to Abraham Zapruder during the assassination


And as far as the sound of the shots go, the first one, as I said, sounded like a firecracker, and the
second one that I heard sounded the same, because I recall no difference whatsoever in them. And I'm sure that if the second shot would have come from a different place -- and the supposed theory is they would have been much closer to me and on the right side -- I would have heard the sounding of the gun much closer, and I probably had a ringing in my head because the fence was quite close to where we were standing, very close. Ah, it just sounded the same way.  Interview with Josiah Thompson


“Yeah. They turned the corner, and they started coming down. And the first thing I remember hearing was what I thought was firecrackers because Kennedy threw his hands up, and I heard “bang, bang.” Now, there could have been a third “bang,” I can’t swear to that one. But I know there were two “bangs” very close together, and I thought they were firecrackers because his arms were going into the air, and it was way off to my left and above. So, you know, I’m just kind of like… what a stupid thing to throw firecrackers, and as they came down… the last shot that we heard was right in front of us and it was like the same sound—far off and to the left—but I saw his head open up and I saw the brains coming up. So, of course, by this time, I knew it wasn’t firecrackers. But those were the only sounds I heard.”


Oral History Interview, Sixth Floor Museum, by Wes Wise & Bob Porter.

#15 & #16 MR. & MRS. JACK FRAZEN: eyewitnesses to the assassination


Jack Frazen: He said he heard the sound of an explosion which appeared to him to come from the President's car and ...small fragments flying inside the vehicle and immediately assumed someone had tossed a firecracker inside the automobile, 22WCH840.

Mrs. Jack Frazen: Shortly after the President
s automobile passed by she heard a noise which sounded as if someone had thrown a firecracker into the Presidents automobile at approximately the same time she noticed dust or small pieces of debris flying from the Presidents automobile, 24WCH525.


#17 S. M. HOLLAND: eyewitness to the assassination (standing roughly in the middle of triple overpass directly over Elm Street)


“…when they (JFK Limo) got just about to the Arcade (Grassy Knoll area) I heard what I thought for a moment was a firecracker and he slumped over and I looked over toward the arcade and trees and saw a puff of smoke come from the trees and I heard three more shots after the first shot but that was the only puff of smoke I saw.” [Sheriff’s Department affidavit: 19H480]


#18 J. W. FOSTER: Dallas Police Patrolman, on top of the triple overpass,

March 25, 1964: “Just as the vehicle in which President Kennedy was riding reached a point on Elm Street just east of the overpass, Patrolman Foster heard a noise that sounded like a large firecracker.” [FBI report: CD897] “After he came onto Elm I watched the men on the track more than I was him. Then I heard this loud noise, sound like a large firecracker. Kind of dumbfounded at first and then heard the second one. I moved to the banister of the overpass to see what was happening. Then the third explosion, and they were beginning to move around. I ran after I saw what was happening.”

J.W. Foster WC Testimony.


#19 VICTORIA ADAMS: eyewitness to the assassination

(Victoria Adams, the notable “girl on the stairs.” She was an employee who worked in the same building as one Lee Harvey Oswald. The problem caused by her presence is very simple and easily summarized. Adams, along with her friend Sandra Styles, stood on the fourth floor of the Texas School Book Depository at the moment of the murder. She testified to hearing three shots, which from her vantage point appeared to be coming from the right of the building (i.e., from the grassy knoll). She and Styles then ran to the stairs to head down. This was the only set of stairs that went all the way to the top of the building. Both she and her friend took them down to the ground floor. She did not see or hear Oswald. Yet, she should have if he were on the sixth floor traveling downwards)


At first she thought it was firecrackers. But when she saw the chaos and the terror on all the faces below, she knew it was something far worse. She turned from the window and grabbed the arm of a co-worker. “Come on.” She whispered. “Let’s find out what’s going on down there.” In this split second, her innocence—and that of a nation’s—came to an end.


(looking out a fourth floor window of the Texas School BookDepository), April 7, 1964: “And we heard a shot, and it was a pause,and then a second shot, and then a third shot. It sounded like a firecracker or a cannon at a football game ….” [Warren Commission testimony: 6H388]


#20 HOWARD BRENNAN: eyewitness to the assassination

Howard Brennan, a 45-year-old steamfitter, while waiting across the street from the Texas School Book Depository for the presidential motorcade, noticed a man at the southeast corner window of the sixth floor of the Depository. Just after the President's car passed, he heard what he thought was a firecracker or an explosion.


(Mr. Belin: “Then what did you observe or hear?”) Mr. Brennan: “Well, then something, just right after this explosion, made me think that it was a firecracker being thrown from the

Texas Book Store.” [Warren Commission testimony: 3H143]


#21 RONALD FISCHER: eyewitness to the assassination (on south side of Elm Street at the west side of the Houston Street corner), “Well, as I looked around to watch these other cars, I heard a shot. At first I thought it was a firecracker. And---uh everybody got quiet. There was no yelling or shouting or anything. Everything seemed to get real still. And--uh--the second shot rang out, and then everybody--from where I was standing---everybody started to scatter. And--uh--then the third shot.” [Warren Commission testimony: 6H195]


#22 HUGH WILLIAM BETZNER: eyewitness to the assassination


VOLUNTARY STATEMENT. Not Under Arrest. Form No. 86


Before me, the undersigned authority, on this the 22 day of November A.D. 1963 personally appeared Hugh William Betzner, Jr., Address 5922 Velasco, Dallas, Age 22 , Phone No. TA 7-9761

Deposes and says:

“I was standing on Houston Street near the intersection of Elm Street. I took a picture of President Kennedy's car as it passed along Houston Street. I have an old camera. I looked down real quick and rolled the film to take the next picture. I then ran down to the corner of Elm and Houston [sic] Streets, this being the southwest corner. I was standing back from the corner and had to take the pictures through some of the crowd. I ran on down Elm a little more and President Kennedy's car was starting to go down the hill to the triple underpass. I was running trying to keep the President's car in my view and was winding my film as I ran. I was looking down at my camera to see the number of the film as I ran. I took another picture as the President's car was going down the hill on Elm Street. I started to wind my film again and I heard a loud noise. I thought that this noise was either a firecracker or a car had backfired. I looked up and it seemed like there was another loud noise in the matter of a few seconds. I looked down the street and I could see the President's car and another one and they looked like

the cars were stopped. Then I saw a flash of pink like someone standing up and then sitting back down in the car. Then I ran around so I could look over the back of a monument and I either saw the following then or when I was sitting back down on the corner of Elm Street. I cannot remember exactly where I was when I saw the following: I heard at least two shots fired and I saw what looked like a firecracker going off in the president's car.”

From Killing Kennedy, p. 148, “There was extensive testimony that the shots came from either close to the car or in the car.  At the time, some said the shots came from secret Service men in the car or close to it.  Photographer Hugh Betzner said that he “saw what looked like a firecracker going off in the President’s car.”  Could the “firecracker” that Betzner saw from his perspective from behind the President have been shattered glass from the windshield travelling towards the President’s throat area as the glass fragments reflected in the sunlight?

#23 AUSTIN MILLER: Warren Commission Testimony

(Miller was standing on the triple overpass)

Mr. BELIN - Well, describe what happened. Did you see the motorcade come by?
Mr. MILLER - Yes sir; it came down main street and turned north on Houston Street and went over two blocks and turned left on Elm Street. Got about halfway down the hill going toward the underpass and that is when as I recall the first shot was fired.
Mr. BELIN - Did you know it was a shot when you heard it?
Mr. MILLER - I didn't know it. I thought at first the motorcycle backfiring or somebody throwed some firecrackers out.
Mr. BELIN - Then what did you hear or see?
Mr. MILLER - After the first one, just a few seconds later, there was two more shots fired, or sounded like a sound at the time. I don't know for sure. And it was after that I saw some man in the car fall forward, and a women next to him grab him and hollered, and just what, I don't know exactly what she said.
Mr. BELIN - Then what did you see?
Mr. MILLER - About that time I turned to look toward the - there is a little plaza sitting on the hill. I looked over there to see if anything was there, who through the firecracker or whatever it was, or see if anything was up there, and there wasn't nobody standing there, so I stepped back and looked at the tracks to see if anybody run across the railroad tracks, and there was nobody running across the railroad tracks. So I turned right straight back just in time to see the convertible take off fast.
Mr. BELIN - You mean the convertible in which the President was riding?
Mr. MILLER - I wouldn't want to say it was the President. It was a convertible, but I saw a man fall over. I don't know whose convertible it was.
Mr. BELIN - Where did the shots sound like they came from?
Mr. MILLER - Well, the way it sounded like, it came from the, I would say from right there in the car. Would be to my left, the way I was looking at him toward that incline.
Mr. BELIN - Is there anything else that you can think of that you saw?
Mr. MILLER - About the time I looked over to the side there, there was a police officer. No; a motorcycle running his motor under against the curb, and jumped off and come up to the hill toward the top and right behind him was some more officers and plainclothesmen, too.
Mr. BELIN - Did you see anyone that might be, that gave any suspicious movements of any kind over there?
Mr. MILLER - No, sir; I didn't
Mr. BELIN - Did you see anyone when you looked around on the railroad tracks, that you hadn't seen before.


#24 LADYBIRD JOHNSON: in vice presidential car during the assassination

“It seemed to me to come from the right above my shoulder from a building. Then a moment and then two more shots in rapid succession. There had been such a gala air that I thought it must be firecrackers or some kind of celebration.”




“At some time in this sequence of events, I heard other explosions. It was impossible for me to tell the direction from which the explosions came." (8-19-69 tape prepared for his book The Vantage Point, as transcribed and published by Michael Beschloss in Reaching for Glory, 2001) "we heard shots. It never occurred to me it was an assassination or a killing. I just thought it was firecrackers or a car backfiring...The first time I knew that there was anything unusual was when the car lunged...It zoomed...This great big ole boy from Georgia said, "Down!" And he got on top of me." (The Vantage Point, 1971)”


#26 JACK READY: eyewitness to the assassination


Jack Ready (Secret Service agent, on the right running-board of the followup car), undated: “I was about 25–30 feet from President Kennedy who was located in the right rear seat. I heard what appeared to be firecrackers going off from my position. I immediately turned to my right

rear trying to locate the source but was not able to determine the exact location. At this time the U.S. Secret Service follow-up car seemed to slow and I heard someone from inside the car say: ‘He’s shot.’ ” [Statement: CE1024: 18H749]


#27 JIM FEATHERSTON: Dallas Times Herald Reporter – witness at the assassination

Dallas Times Herald reporter Jim Featherston had watched the motorcade from the east side of Houston Street. When the shots rang out, he thought they were firecrackers, and was unable to see any of the events occurring on Elm Street.

Dallas Times Herald reporter Jim Featherston had watched the motorcade from the east side of Houston Street. When the shots rang out, he thought they were firecrackers, and was unable to see any of the events occurring on Elm Street.


#28 MRS. DONALD BAKER: eyewitness in front of the TSBD (north side of Elm Street)


“Well, after he (JFK) passed us, then we heard a noise and I thought it was firecrackers, because I saw a shot or something hit the pavement…[much later in testimony discussing a shot that hit the street at the Freeway Sign located just before the Stemmons Freeway Sign on the northside of Elm Street] Well, as I said, I thought it was a firecracker.  It looked like you could see the sparks from it and I just thought it was a firecracker.” Pp.546-47. HSCA vol 2.


#29 VIRGIE RACKLEY: eyewitness in front of the TSBD (n side of elm)

“…heard three explosions spaced at intervals which she at first thought were firecrackers.”

HSCA, vol. 2, p. 543.


#30 JEAN HILL, excerpt from a speech given by Miss Hill (November, 1991)


There were three shots. We (assassination investigators) have three bullets and that's all we're going to commit to now." I said, "Well, I know what I heard," and they told me, "What you heard were echoes. You would be very wise to keep your mouth shut." Well, I guess I've never been that wise. I know the difference between firecrackers, echoes, and gunshots. I'm the daughter of a game ranger, and my father took me shooting all my life. (Jean Hill believes that she heard gunshots)


#31 MARY MOORMAN: eyewitness to the assassination standing next to Jean Hill

Testimony Clay Shaw Trial, February 15, 1969.


Moorman: I observed the motorcade as it approached. There were several cars preceding the Presidential limousine and as the Presidential limousine approached me I stepped forward to observe closer in order to take a picture, that is what I planned to do and just what I did.

Q: Did you hear any unusual noises?

Moorman: Yes.

Q: And what did these noises -- How many of these noises did you hear and what did it sound like to you?

Moorman: I heard three noises and they sounded like firecrackers.

#32 LOUIE STEVEN WITT: eyewitness / the reputed “umbrella man”


“ Yes, As I moved toward the street, still walking on the grass, I heard the shots that I eventually learned were shot.  At the time somehow it didn’t register as shots because they were so close together, and it was like hearing a string of firecrackers, or something like that.”

HSCA, Vol. 4, p. 433.


#33 CLINTON J. HILL: November 30, 1963 statement

(secret service agent on the left rear of JFK limousine grabbing Jackie Kennedy during assassination)


The motorcade made a left hand turn onto Elm Street. I was on the forward portion of the left running board of the follow-up car. The motorcade made a left hand turn from Elm Street toward an underpass. We were traveling about 12 to 15 miles per hour. On the left hand side was a grass area with a few people scattered along it observing the motorcade passing, and I was visually scanning these people when I heard a noise similar to a firecracker. The sound came from my right rear and I immediately moved my head in that direction. In so doing, my eyes had to cross the Presidential automobile and I saw the President hunch forward and then slump to his left. I jumped from the Follow-up car and ran toward the Presidential automobile. I heard a second firecracker type noise but it had a different sound - like the sound of shooting a revolver into something hard. I saw the President slump more toward his left. [Statement: CE1024: 18H742]


#34 GEORGE HICKEY: Secret Service Agent, statement (23rd November, 1963)


(Secret Service agent, in the follow-up car):

The motorcade then left the airport and proceeded along the parade route. Just prior to the shooting the Presidential car turned left at the intersection and started down an incline toward an underpass followed by 679X.  “Just prior to the shooting I was seated in the rear of [the followup

car] on the left side. As [the Presidential limousine] made the turn and proceeded a short distance I heard what seemed to me that a firecracker exploded to the right and rear.”

[Statement: 18H765]


WILLIAM MANCHESTER, The Death of a President (1976)

But the White House Detail was confused. Their experience in outdoor shooting was limited to two qualification courses a year on a range in Washington's National Arboretum. There they heard only their own weapons, and they were unaccustomed to the bizarre effects that are created when small-arms fire echoes among unfamiliar structures - in this case, the buildings of Dealey Plaza. Emory Roberts recognized Oswald's first shot as a shot. So did Youngblood, whose alert response may have saved Lyndon Johnson's life. They were exceptions. The men in Halfback were bewildered. They glanced around uncertainly. Lawson, Kellerman, Greer, Ready, and Hill all thought that a firecracker had been exploded. 



From Bennett’s alleged contemporaneous handwritten notes from November 22, 1963: “… I heard a noise that immediately reminded me of a firecracker. Immediately, upon hearing the supposed firecracker, [I] looked at the Boss’s [JFK’s] car. At this exact time I saw a shot that hit the Boss about four inches down from the right shoulder; a second shoot [sic] followed immediately and hit the right rear high [sic] of the Boss’s head.”157 [Emphasis added.] From Bennett’s typed report dated November 23, 1963: “… I heard what sounded like a fire-cracker. I immediately looked from the right/crowd/physical area and looked towards the President who was seated in the right rear seat of his limousine [sic] open convertible. At the moment I looked at the back of the President I heard another firecracker noise and saw the shot hit the President about four inches down from the right shoulder. A second shot followed immediately and hit the right rear high [sic] of the President’s head … We peered towards the rear and particularly the right side of the area.”158 [Emphasis added.] Finally, from Ben-nett’s HSCA interview: “He remembers hearing what he hoped was a firecracker. He then heard another noise and saw what appeared to be a nick in the back of President Kennedy’s coat below the shoulder. He thought the President had been hit in the back. Glen Bennett stated that he believes the first and second shots were close together and then a longer pause before the third shot … Bennett stated that he does not recall any agents reacting before the third shot … Bennett stated that he believes he saw the nick in the President’s coat after the sec-ond shot.”159 [Emphasis added.]



Youngblood stated, “But in my mind, I think I identified the last two (shots) positively as shots, whereas the first ones I thought was just an explosive noise, and I didn’t know whether it was a firecracker, bomb, bullet or other explosion. It seems, as I try to think it over, there was more of a crack sound to the last shots.” [Statement: CE1024: 18H768]



Agent Warren “Woody” Taylor (V.P. Detail, rode in V.P. follow-up car; assigned to Lady Bird Johnson): From Taylor’s Secret Service report, we learn the follow-ing detail: “[After the first shot:] Out of the corner of my eye and off slightly to the rear of our car, I noticed what now seems to me might have been a short piece of streamer flying in the air close to the ground … I thought that it was a firecracker going off.”  (Secret Service agent, three cars back from the Presidential limousine), November 29, 1963: “Our automobile had just turned a corner

(the names of the streets are unknown to me) when I heard a bang which sounded to me like a possible firecracker—the sound coming from my right rear. Out of the corner of my eye and off

slightly to the right rear of our car, I noticed what now seems to me might have been a short piece of streamer flying in the air close to the ground, but due to the confusion of the moment, I thought that it was a firecracker going off.” [Statement:

CE1024: 18H782]


JACK LAWRENCE, an Air Force expert, who has been traveling around the South and firing high-velocity bullets through windshields of wrecked cars in junkyards to see if he can hit dummies in the back seat. Jim has discovered that the bullets make the sound of a firecracker as they pass through the glass, which explains early reports that the first shot sounded like a firecracker. JAMES FETZER:


Jack Lawrence worked for the Downtown Lincoln-Mercury car dealership in Dallas. Lawrence claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald asked to test-drive a car in early November. Afterwards Lawrence reported the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On 21st November, 1963, Lawrence borrowed one of the firm's cars. The following day he failed to turn up for work. “According to Jim Marrs (Crossfire), about thirty minutes after the assassination, he (Lawrence) came hustling through the company's show room, pale and sweating with mud on his clothes. He rushed into the men's room and threw up.” He told co-workers he had been ill that morning, and that he had tried to drive the car back to the dealership but had to park it due to the heavy traffic. Later, employees found the car parked behind the wooden picket fence on top of the Grassy Knoll overlooking Dealey Plaza." Lawrence's strange behavior was reported to the Dallas police. He was interviewed by officers investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. They discovered that Lawrence was a marksman in the United States Air Force. According to Beverly Oliver, Lawrence was a regular at the Carousel Club (owned by Jack Ruby) and a close friend of George Senator.


#38 GEORGE DAVIS: eyewitness on the railway triple overpass


Mr. Davis heard a sound which he described as similar to firecrackers exploding. He stated they did not sound like rifle fire because they were not loud enough. All shots were very close together and he stated it was impossible for him to determine the number of shots. He stated his first impression was that someone had played a prank, but then he saw guns in the hands of the Secret Service Agents with President Kennedy, saw President Kennedy slumped forward, and the police motorcycle escort maneuver swiftly about the area and he realized it as not a prank. [FBI report does not reveal if Davis was asked where he thought the shots came from.]

FBI Report, March 17, 1964. 22H837


#39 ROYCE SKELTON: eyewitness on the railway triple overpass

“I was standing on top of the train trestle where it crosses Elm Street with Austin Miller…I heard something which I thought was fireworks.  I saw something hit the pavement at the left rear of the car, then the car got in the right hand lane and I heard two more shots…I then heard another shot and saw the bullet hit the pavement.  The concrete was knocked to the South away from the car.  It hit in the left or middle lane.” HSCA Vol. 2, p. 538.


#40 JOHN CHISM (on the north side of Elm Street, in front of the Stemmons

Freeway sign), November 22, 1963: “… and just about the time they looked back, the second shot was fired. At this point, I looked behind me, to see whether it was a fireworks display or something.” [Sheriff’s Department affidavit: 19H471]  John Chism (on December 18, 1963: “The first shot he thought was a firecracker….” [FBI report: 24H525]


#41 BILLY LOVEDAY Billy Lovelady (on the steps of the Texas School Book Depository), November 22, 1963: “At first he thought it was a firecracker or the backfire of a

motorcycle.” [FBI report: CD205]


#42 JAMES WORRELL (standing in front of the entrance of the Texas School Book

Depository), November 23, 1963: “I heard a loud noise like a firecracker

or gun shots.” [Affidavit: CE2003: 24H231]


#43 OCHUS CAMPBELL (on the north side of Elm Street, in front of the Texas

School Book Depository), November 24, 1963: “… about 30 feet in front

of this building facing away from the building observing the passing motorcade

containing President Kennedy. At this time, he heard a loud report,

which at first he considered to be a firecracker or some such object

set off by a crank ….” [FBI report: CE1435: 22H845]


#44 VIRGIE BAKER (RACKLEY) (on the north side of Elm Street, in front of the

Texas School Book Depository), November 24, 1963: “She observed

President Kennedy’s car pass her point of observation and almost immediately

thereafter heard three explosions spaced at intervals which she at

first thought were firecrackers.” [FBI interview: CD5]


#45 DOLORES KOUNAS (on the south-west corner of Elm and Houston Streets),

November 24, 1963: “After the car had passed her point and was almost

to the underpass she heard a noise like a firecracker.” [FBI report:

CE1436: 22H846]


#46 TOM DILLARD (press; on Houston Street at the time of the shots),

November 25, 1963: “Mr. Dillard stated the car in which he was riding had not

approached the corner of Houston and Elm Streets when he heard a

noise sounding like a ‘torpedo’ (a large firecraker).” [FBI report: CD5]


#47 JERRY KIVETT (Secret Service agent, three cars back from the Presidential

limousine), November 29, 1963: “As the motorcade was approximately

1/3 of the way to the underpass, traveling between 10 and 15 miles per

hour, I head a loud noise—someone hollered [sic] ‘What was that?’ It

sounded more like an extremely large firecracker, in that it did not seem

to have the sharp report of a rifle.” [Statement: CE1024: 18H778]


#48 WARREN TAYLOR (Secret Service agent, three cars back from the Presidential

limousine), November 29, 1963: “Our automobile had just turned a corner

(the names of the streets are unknown to me) when I heard a bang

which sounded to me like a possible firecracker—the sound coming from

my right rear. Out of the corner of my eye and off slightly to the right rear

of our car, I noticed what now seems to me might have been a short piece

of streamer flying in the air close to the ground, but due to the confusion

of the moment, I thought that it was a firecracker going off.” [Statement:

CE1024: 18H782]


#49 JAMES DARNELL (press; on Houston Street at the time of the shots), November

29, 1963: “He stated he heard the first shot and thought that it was

backfire from an automobile. The second shot he thought was a firecracker.”

[FBI report: CD7]


#50 YOLA HOPSON (watching through a closed window on the fourth floor of the

Texas School Book Depository), December 1, 1963: “… President Kennedy’s

car passed in front of the building. Immediately after he passed, she heard two or more loud sounds which she thought were firecrackers. She stated that she thought they had been set off on the street below ….” [FBI report: 24H821]


#51 RUBY HENDERSON (on the north-east corner of Elm and Houston Streets),

December 6, 1963: “Mrs. Henderson said at the time the motorcade

passed where she was standing, she heard what she initially thought was

a firecracker ….” [FBI report: CE2089: 24H524]


#52 LILLIAN MOONEYHAM (watching from a window of the Courts Building),

January 10, 1964: “At the time of the initial shot, Mrs. Mooneyham believed

that a firecracker had gone off.” [FBI report: CE2098: 24H531]


#53 NOLAN POTTER (on top of the triple overpass), March 17, 1964: “Potter stated

that when the President’s car had turned west on Elm Street and had driven past the Texas School Book Depository Building, he heard three loud reports which sounded like firecrackers.” [FBI report: CE1418: 22H834]


#54 BONNIE RAY WILLIAMS (looking out a window directly below the ‘sniper’s lair’

in the Texas School Book Depository), March 19, 1964: “I thought the

noises I heard were firecrackers.” [FBI statement: CE1381: 22H681]


#55 BETTY FOSTER (looking out a window of the fourth floor of the Texas School

Book Depository), March 19, 1964: “I heard something that sounded like fireworks after the President’s car turned down Elm Street but I wasn’t sure what it was.” [FBI statement: 22H647]


#56 DOROTHY GARNER (looking out a fourth floor window of the Texas School Book

Depository), March 20, 1964: “I recall that moments following the passing of the Presidential car I heard three loud reports which I first thought to be fireworks but only seconds later realized something had happened on the street below although at the time of the shots, the Presidential car was out of view behind a tree.” [FBI statement: 22H648]


#57 BILLIE CLAY (on the north side of Elm Street, near the Thornton sign, just

west of the Texas School Book Depository), March 23, 1964: “Just a few seconds after the car in which President John F. Kennedy was riding passed the position where I was standing, I heard a shot. At first I thought it might be a firecracker or a motorcycle backfire, but when I heard the second and third shots I knew someone was shooting at the President.” [FBI statement: CE1381: 22H641]


#58 JUDY JOHNSON (on the south-west corner of Elm and Houston Streets),

March 23, 1964: “I heard three explosions which sounded to me like firecrackers.”

[FBI report: 22H656]


#59 BETTY THORNTON (in front of the Texas School Book Depository), March 23,

1964: “As the car in which the President was riding passed by, I heard

what I thought were firecrackers being discharged ….” [FBI statement:

CE1381: 22H677]


#60 ROY TURLY (on the north side of Elm Street in front of the Texas School Book

Depository), March 24, 1964: “I heard an explosion, which I thought was

a toy cannon or a loud firecracker from west of the building.” [Warren

Commission testimony: 3H221]


#61 JOHN MARTIN, JR. (on the south side of Elm Street, north of the reflecting

pool), March 31, 1964: “A few seconds after the President had passed and was departing from his view, he heard a loud report and first thought that it was a firecracker ….” [FBI report: CD897]


#62 RONALD FISCHER (on south side of Elm Street at the west side of the Houston

Street corner), April 1, 1964: “Well, as I looked around to watch these other cars, I heard a shot. At first I thought it was a firecracker.” [Warren Commission testimony: 6H195]


#64 MARY MITCHELL (on the south-east corner of Elm and Houston Streets),

April 1, 1964: “… and probably on the first one my thought was that it was a firecracker ….” [Warren Commission testimony: 6H176]


#65 BARBARA ROWLAND(on the east side of Houston Street, between Main and

Elm Streets), April 1, 1964: “I just heard a sound, and I thought it might be a firecracker.” [Warren Commission testimony: 6H184]


#66 SEYMOUR WEITZMAN (Dallas police officer, on the corner of Main and Houston

Streets), April 1, 1964: “… we heard what we thought at that time was either a rifle shot or a firecracker, I mean at that second.” [Warren Commission testimony: 7H106]


#67 HARRY HOLMES (looking through binoculars from the fifth floor of the Terminal

Annex building, on the other side of Dealey Plaza, two blocks south of

Elm Street), April 2, 1964: “As it turned in front of the School Book Depository,

I heard what sounded to me like firecrackers ….” [Warren Commission testimony: 7H291]


#68 WILLIAM SHELLEY(on the steps of the Texas School Book Depository), April 7,

1964: “Well, I heard something sounded like it was a firecracker … Sounded like a miniature cannon or baby giant firecracker, wasn’t real

loud.” [Warren Commission testimony: 6H329]


Mr. BALL - Did you see the motorcade pass?
Mr. SHELLEY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - What did you hear?
Mr. SHELLEY - Well, I heard something sounded like it was a firecracker and a slight pause and then two more a little bit closer together.
Mr. BALL - And then?
Mr. SHELLEY - I didn't think anything about it.
Mr. BALL - What did it sound like to you?
Mr. SHELLEY - Sounded like a miniature cannon or baby giant firecracker, wasn't real loud.


#69 SECRET SERVICE AGENT WINSTON LAWSON(in the lead car ahead of the Presidential limousine), April 23, 1964: “I heard this very loud report which at first flashing through my mind did not say rifle shot to me. It sounded different than a rifle shot. It sounded louder and more of a bang than a crack. My first impression was firecracker or bomb or something like that.” [Warren Commission testimony: 4H352)


#70 DAVE POWERS(Presidential aide; in the follow-up car), May 18, 1964:

“Shortly thereafter the first shot went off and it sounded to me as if it

were a firecracker.” [Warren Commission affidavit: 7H473]


#71 KENNETH O’DONNELL (Presidential aide; in the follow-up car), May 18, 1964:

“My first impression was it was a firecracker.” [Warren Commission testimony:



#72 SECRET SERVICE AGENT CLIFTON CARTER (in the third car behind the Presidential limousine, in front of the Texas School Book Depository at the time of the

shooting), May 20, 1964: “… our car had just made the left hand turn off

Houston onto May 20, 1964: “… our car had just made the left hand turn off

Houston onto Elm Street and was right alongside of the Texas School

Book Depository when I heard a noise which sounded like a firecracker.”

[Warren Commission affidavit: 7H474]


#73 WILLIAM DOWNEY (at the corner of Main Street and Houston Street), June 11,

1964: “Shortly after the car had passed the corner on which he stood,

Downey heard one or more explosions, which he thought were firecrackers.”

[FBI report: 26H551]


#75 MARILYN WILLIS (on the south side of top end of Elm Street), June 17, 1964:

“Mrs.Willis advised when the motorcade passed on Elm Street in front of where she was standing she heard a noise that sounded like a firecracker or a backfire.” [FBI report: CD1245]


#76 EARLE CABELL (four cars behind the Presidential limousine, at the top of Elm

Street at the time of the shots), July 13, 1964: “I heard the shot. Mrs. Cabell said, ‘Oh a gun’ or ‘a shot’, and I was about to deny and say ‘Oh it must have been a firecracker’ when the second and third shots rang out.” [Warren Commission testimony: 7H478]


#77 WELCOME BARNETT (Dallas police officer holding back traffic and spectators

at the corner of Elm and Houston), July 23, 1964: “When the first shot was fired, I thought it was a firecracker ….” [Warren Commission testimony: 7H541]

#78 EDGAR SMITH (Dallas police officer on Houston Street between Elm and Main

Streets), July 24, 1964: “I heard three shots, I guess they were shots. I thought that the first two were just firecrackers ….” [Later:] “… like I said—the first two were just—I mulled it over in my mind and I thought it was firecrackers and I thought to myself that was awful—not very nice— throwing them out there ….” [Warren Commission testimony: 7H567,



#79 THOMAS ATKINS BFA '56, was the White House cinematographer. He was riding in an open convertible known as the reel car in President Kennedy's motorcade in Dallas:


#80 JAMES L. SIMMONS (witness on Triple Overpass directly over Elm Street who was interviewed by Mark Lane in his documentary Rush To Judgement): [when asked what he heard while he witnessed the assassination] “…firecracker or a gunshot.”


SENATOR RALPH YARBOROUGH (In Vice President’s limo)

(Interview with Jim Marrs published in Crossfire, 1989) "I thought 'Was that a bomb thrown?" and then the other shots were fired. And the motorcade, which had slowed to a stop, took off."








Unredacted Episode 4: Transcript of Interview with Don Thomas

Don Thomas is the scientist whose work on the Kennedy assassination acoustics evidence has made a strong challenge to the "debunking" the HSCA's acoustics analysis received in the early 1980s. This interview was conducted on 5 Apr 2006. Tyler Weaver provided the introduction, and the interview was conducted by Rex Bradford.


Rex Bradford: Sure. Many more people - including those that (weren't) familiar with firearms - talked about the first shot being a firecracker. I wonder if the sound of hitting pavement might bring that impression on them?


Don Thomas: Yeah, it's hard to tell what peoples' impression of sound. Yeah, a lot of them felt the first shot sounded more like a firecracker


-When the gunfire began, most people were reminded of the sound of

firecrackers, which ties in with the type of report that a small-caliber

round such as the 5.56 mm or .223 caliber round which the military M-16 round

uses. [Skepticfiles]


-HSCA 4.3 Loudness and Apparent Size of Acoustic Image, Vol VIII, p. 148.


“All observers rated the rifle shots as very very loud, and they were unable to understand how they could have been described as a firecracker or backfire.  Only the pistol, which was subsonic, produced a moderate loudness.”


The following website affords a free audio recording for the firecracker sound.


AudioMicro, Inc.


Track description


Cue sheet info

AudioMicro, Inc.

13351-D Riverside Drive #219

Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 USA


AudioMicro Stock Audio Library









Downloads:0 Report Track

Download original types

44 kHz | 320 kbps
0.07 Mb
44 kHz | 16 bit
0.3 Mb
44 kHz | 16 bit
0.3 Mb





The 2004 Taiwan President Chen and Vice President Lu Assassination Attempt, also known as the 3-19 Presidential Assassination Attempt.


President Chen and Vice President Lu were standing in the back seat of an open convertible Jeep moving slowly through a crowded street. One bullet penetrated the windshield of the American Jeep, ripped through multiple layers of clothing, grazed Chen's stomach and was stopped in his clothes. Chen received a flesh wound 8 cm long and 2 cm deep (four inches long, an inch wide, and an inch deep).[citation needed] The other bullet penetrated the windshield and hit the vice president's knee cast (she was wearing a knee cast due to an earlier injury) and was found in the Jeep. At first both believed that they had been hit by firecrackers, which are common in Taiwanese political parades and rallies. Chen realized that it was something more serious when he noticed that he was bleeding from the abdomen and that there was a bullet hole in the window.


AM: RADIO SHOW on ABC Radio broadcast in Australia


Reporter: Mark Simkin

ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Taiwanese President, Chen Shui-bian, has been discharged from hospital, but his nation is still in shock.

Late yesterday, the President and his Vice President survived an assassination attempt. Chen Shui-bian says there's nothing to worry about and the Government is urging calm.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Today's Presidential election will go ahead as planned, although political analysts are now trying to estimate the impact the shooting will have.

North Asia Correspondent Mark Simkin reports from Taipei.

MARK SIMKIN: The President and Vice President were campaigning on the back of a four-wheel drive when the attack occurred.

At first, officials thought a firecracker had gone off, but then Chen Shui-bian discovered his shirt was covered in blood. The motorcade rushed to a hospital, where doctors found an 11 centimetre long wound in the President’s stomach.

The Secretary-General of the President's office made the announcement to a massive media pack.


Taiwanese Leaders Survive Shooting Incident Ahead of Vote



Published: March 19, 2004


TAINAN, Taiwan, Saturday March 20 — The president and vice president of Taiwan were shot in this southern Taiwan city Friday afternoon on the eve of bitterly contested national elections, but neither suffered life-threatening injuries and the Central Election Commission said that the vote would proceed as scheduled today.


President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu were standing next to each other in the back of an open-roofed red Jeep driving slowly through streets crowded with supporters in Tainan, the president's hometown, when the president was struck in the abdomen by a bullet, police and government spokesmen said.


Supporters lining the route of the motorcade were discharging large numbers of firecrackers, and the president initially thought he had been hit by a firecracker, only to find his abdomen becoming wet with blood, Chiou I-Jen, the secretary general of the presidential office, said in a news briefing in Taipei. The president and vice president were taken to the Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan, where they were treated and released. They returned to Taipei Friday night.


A bullet was found lodged between the skin of the president's abdomen and his undershirt, having apparently torn a wound four inches long, an inch wide and an inch deep, medical officials said in a televised briefing. He received stitches to sew up the wound, they said.

Ms. Lu had a shallow flesh wound on her knee. Police said she and Mr. Chen may have been hit by the same bullet, but they said they suspected there were at least two gunmen involved in the shooting. Mr. Chen delivered a brief late-night address to the nation, assuring his people he was well and they were secure.


"After careful treatment by doctors, A-Bian is fine," he said in a brief address to the nation, speaking about himself in the third person and using his nickname, as is his custom. "Please put your hearts at ease. We have activated the national security mechanism. The security of Taiwan has no problems," he said.


Defense Minister Tang Yian-min said that the Taiwanese military had been placed on alert but that there had been no hint of any unusual activity across the Taiwan Strait in mainland China.

President Chen's Democratic Progressive Party and Lien Chan, the presidential candidate of the opposition Nationalist Party, each appealed for calm, cancelled large campaign rallies scheduled for Friday evening and even urged their supporters not to gather in public places.

The circumstances of the shooting, which some observers speculated could affect voting in the tight race, remained unclear through Friday night.


Local and national police officials gathered in Tainan to investigate said they had no suspects in the case. They said the president’s bodyguards and eyewitnesses at the scene had all said they did not hear shots fired and did not spot anyone with a gun. They appealed for spectators to come forward with any information that might prove useful.


Several investigators said that supporters of Mr. Chen packed the parade route through the center of the city lighting firecrackers, raising the possibility that the shots went undetected and the people responsible had a chance to slip away undetected.


Ho Yuo-yi, chief of the Criminal Investigations Bureau of the National Police Agency, who spoke to reporters in Tainan late Friday night, presented a diagram of the motorcade route that showed that the site where the president reported feeling a pain in his stomach about one kilometer from the place where police subsequently found spent cartridge shells.


A presidential aide said late Friday that Mr. Chen initially thought he had been hit by a stray firecracker. He turned to a bodyguard and asked for some burn ointment. Shortly thereafter he realized the wound was more serious. A doctor traveling with the motorcade was then summoned, and the president was rushed to a designated emergency hospital in Tainan.

Mr. Ho said that police had determined that two different types of bullets were fired, one made of lead and another of copper, and that the trajectories of the bullets – one coming from the left side of the open vehicle and the other through the right side of the front windshield – suggested that there were two or more gunmen.


He and other police officials said the bullets were of a type fired by a handgun and that the gun or guns involved appeared to be of low quality, possibly homemade. But they stressed that any conclusions were premature.


Police offered a $90,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the shooter or shooters. The opposition Nationalists offered even more, pledging to pay $300,000 to catch the assailants.

Conflicting early reports about the shooting, the timing of the incident, and the light injuries suffered by Mr. Chen and Ms. Lu raised speculation around Taiwan that the event may have been staged to boost support for Mr. Chen, who was widely considered to be slightly trailing Mr. Lien going into election day.


Mr. Lien and other top Nationalist Party officials repeatedly called for calm and emphasized that they were concerned mainly with the health of the president. But they also called for a full explanation of the shooting to be made by Friday night.


Some supporters of the Nationalist Party, speaking on television call-in shows, in Internet chat rooms and in street interviews, raised the possibility that the incident was arranged in advance to generate a last-minute sympathy vote for Mr. Chen. Several people said the event reminded them of a “ku rou ji,” an ancient Chinese term for a self-inflicted wounded intended to trick a foe.

But Hsiao Bi-Khim , director of international affairs for the Democratic Progressive Party, castigated the opposition party for what she called an inhumane attempt to play politics with an “assassination attempt.”


“It’s outrageous to think that this could have been a staged attempt,” Ms. Hsiao said.

Analysts said it was difficult to tell how the event would affect the election, which election commission officials announced would go ahead as planned.


Philip Yang, director of the Taiwan Security Research, a public policy center, said tonight that the shooting could tip the votes of “several percent” of the population to Mr. Chen, and that this could constitute the margin of victory in the close race.


But some other analysts said the event could also motivate supporters of the Nationalist Party to turn out today, particularly if many believe that president was playing a trick to win another term.

Chinese officials did not react to the incident Friday. But early Saturday morning the New China News Agency issued a brief statement from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, the Cabinet, in Beijing. “We are aware of this incident. At present, the truth about the incident remains unclear, and we continue to pay attention to developments,” the statement said in full.

While attacks on political figures are almost unheard of in Taiwan, the island does have a long history of serious rioting in response to political developments, most recently in 2000, when Nationalist Party supporters violently protested Mr. Lien's loss in that election to Mr. Chen.

A crowd of more than 1,000 people had gathered by this evening outside the Democratic Progressive Party campaign headquarters here. Some were crying as the crowd sang patriotic songs, but there was no sign of violence.


Mr. Lien said that he had expected a million of Taiwan's 23 million people to attend the four large rallies across the country it had planned for Friday evening. He condemned the attack today and said that when he tried to call the president three hours after the incident, "his staff told me he was all right, it was nothing too serious."

Taiwan does not have a history of domestic terrorism or assassination attempts, although in 1970 a Taiwanese activist tried to kill Chiang Ching-kuo, who was vice premier at the time and later become president, while Mr. Chiang was visiting New York.


President Chen's Jeep was not equipped with bulletproof glass. Mr. Chen was not wearing his bulletproof vest, but he seldom does so even when he is not in his hometown, said Mr. Chiou of the president’s office.


Mr. Chen has prided himself on being accessible to the public as part of this country's flourishing democracy, also opening the Presidential Office building to the public on weekday mornings.

Taiwan's National Security Council held a special meeting this afternoon, reviewing the effect of the shooting on civil order, international relations and financial markets. The shooting took place at 1:45 on Friday afternoon, 15 minutes after the regular closing of the local stock market.

President Chen has long been an outspoken critic of the mainland and an advocate for greater Taiwanese independence from China. But Beijing has kept its public criticisms of him to a minimum during the election campaign, after its criticisms of candidates favoring greater independence in the 1996 and 2000 presidential races appeared to backfire, drawing a sympathy vote for those candidates.


Mr. Lien has called for closer relations with the mainland. He said this week that if elected, he would travel to Washington, then Tokyo and then Beijing before his inauguration.

While some lawmakers have visited Beijing, no president or president-elect has visited the mainland since the Nationalists fled here in 1949 upon losing China's civil war to the Communists.


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