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Local News

November 22, 2013

JFK's last day: How the tragic event unfolded

(Continued)

The motorcade moved on.

Up ahead was Dealey Plaza and a corridor of buildings including the book depository, where Buell Frazier stood on the front steps with co-workers — though not Lee Oswald.

Happy pandemonium greeted the presidential Lincoln, and suddenly Frazier could see Jackie Kennedy.

“She’s as pretty as the pictures,” he remembers calling out to a woman nearby.

And that quickly the motorcade glided by. But then came a sound that Frazier first thought was a police motorcycle backfiring.

Then another pop. And another. Frazier recognized it was gunfire.

Instantly, he says, “People were running and screaming and hollering. Somebody came running by as we were standing there on the steps and she says, ‘They’ve shot the president.’”

In the agents’ car, Hill heard the first shot, sprinted to the Lincoln and scrambled aboard. As he strained to hold on, he saw Mrs. Kennedy climbing onto the rear of the car. He pushed her back to her seat.

Meanwhile, reporters were struggling to grasp the events, then get the news out.

In the Dallas AP office, the phone rang and bureau chief Bob Johnson grabbed it. On the line was staff photographer James W. “Ike” Altgens, who had been recording the Dealey Plaza chaos.

“Bob, the president’s been shot,” he shouted from a pay phone.

“Ike, how do you know?” Johnson demanded.

“I was shooting pictures then and I saw it.”

Johnson typed furiously, folding in Altgens’ details:

“BULLETIN.

“DALLAS — PRESIDENT KENNEDY WAS SHOT TODAY JUST AS HIS MOTORCADE LEFT DOWNTOWN DALLAS. MRS. KENNEDY JUMPED UP AND GRABBED HIM. SHE CRIED: ‘OH, NO!’ THE MOTORCADE SPED ON.”

The Lincoln, with agent Hill spread-eagled over the wounded president, raced to Parkland Hospital.

Because it was lunchtime, many on the Parkland staff were in the cafeteria when calls suddenly blared over the public address system, summoning specialists — “stat.”

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