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Author Topic: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion?--A Fun Update!  (Read 21530 times)

Offline Benjamin Cole

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Okay, here goes. Nothing "new" here, except I researched smoky ammo and weapons. I accept G. Robert Blakey's statement that if there was a shot from the Grassy Knoll, if missed. I ponder the hysterical woman met by Patrolman Smith. I think I draw a scenario more defensible that "nothing happened on the Grassy Knoll," or "there was a gunshot that struck the President."

The Grassy Knoll Events As Diversion

Like many armchair Kennedy Assassination buffs old enough to be alive on Nov. 22, 1963, I have dutifully read the literature and followed the blogs for decades, never quite willing to close the books on murder, especially this one. 
So much impressive research has been done, including even those efforts that perhaps led to a dead-end. I never blame researchers?or even Warren Commission supporters?for groping in the dark; I blame a government that saw fit to extinguish light for generations, and let leads grow stone-cold in the long night.
And that includes one tantalizing lead provided in Dealey Plaza moments after the shooting by the ?hysterical woman.? But I am getting ahead of myself; more on the hysterical woman later, but keep her in mind as we explore an idea oddly unexplored in the vast JFK literature: The actions on the Grassy Knoll that fateful day in Dallas were but a diversion.

Gunsmoke On the Plaza

The 1974 book Murder From Within by Fred Newcombe may come to an unproved conclusion that Lyndon Johnson organized his predecessor?s murder, but like so many earnest researchers Newcombe waded through the documents and testimony, and registered clues that were totally missed or ignored by the Warren Commission, and even effectively overlooked by the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Give Newcombe credit; he noticed that at least nine witnesses?and many experienced witnesses no less?smelled the distinctive, telltale scent of gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza immediately after the assassination, including most famously Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough, a World War II veteran. Riding in the motorcade in a car behind the president?s, Yarborough said smelled gunpowder on Elm Street and that it clung to his car throughout the race to Parkland Hospital.
Perhaps engaging in a little journalistic license, a newspaper reported that ?seconds later the [presidential] cavalcade was gone [from Dealey Plaza]. The area still reeked with the smell of gunpowder.?
Later, the Aussie detective Colin McLaren would say he counted 22 witnesses at street level who smelled gunsmoke that day in Dealey Plaza, for his regrettable video that concludes a Secret Service man accidentally shot President Kennedy. But the headcount was a worthy yeoman duty.
JFK assassination researchers, of course, are more than aware that railroad workers on the Triple Overpass (most notably S.M. Holland), and Lee Bowers in the Union Terminal Co.?s two-story observation tower in the railroad parking lot behind the Grassy Knoll, said they saw a puff of gunsmoke concurrent to gunshots, and then smoke lingering in the trees atop the Grassy Knoll shortly thereafter.
The ?sniper?s nest? in the TSBD was about 80 yards from the Grassy Knoll, and downwind that day.

Patrolman Joe M. Smith

But perhaps Dallas Police Department Patrolman Joe M. Smith is the most interesting and best witness, ?best? as he can be assumed to be very familiar with vehicular exhaust and gunsmoke.
In a Dec. 9, 1963 interview with the FBI, Smith, a Korean war vet and eight-year Dallas cop, said he smelled gunsmoke in the Union Terminal railroad yard parking lot, after the assassination.
And Smith is most ?interesting? for the hysterical woman he met en route to an encounter with what was likely a Secret Service impostor.
After gunshots rang out in Dealey Plaza, Smith told the Warren Commission that, ?[T]his woman came up to me and she was just in hysterics. She told me, ?They are shooting the President from the bushes.? So I immediately proceeded up here.?
By ?here? Patrolman Smith meant the bushes around the concrete concave-shaped pergola structure, also sometimes called a monumental colonnade, between the TSBD and the Grassy Knoll.
Smith?s testimony to Warren Commission has nearly become canon in the assassination community, recounted many times, and always intriguing.
As Smith further explained, ?I was checking all the bushes and I checked all the cars in the [railroad] parking lot.?
Smith then elaborates, ?There was some deputy sheriff with me [possibly Deputy Seymour Weitzman], and I believe one Secret Service man when I got there.
I got to make this statement, too. I felt awfully silly, but after the shot and this woman, I pulled my pistol from my holster, and I thought, this is silly, I don't know who I am looking for, and I put it back. Just as I did, he showed me that he was a Secret Service agent.
[Warren Commission staffer]Mr. LIEBELER: Did you accost this man?
Mr. SMITH: Well, he saw me coming with my pistol and right away he showed me who he was.?
Smith said he had doubts about the man actually being Secret Service: ?It didn?t ring true.  He looked like an auto mechanic.  He had on a sports shirt, but he had dirty fingernails.  I should have checked the man closer, but he had produced correct identification.?
As conspiracy researchers and buffs well know, there were no Secret Service men on duty anywhere in Dallas, except in the motorcade. Dallas Deputy Sheriff Seymour Weitzman made a similar statement to the Warren Commission about a Secret Service man in the railroad yard, and later told an interviewer that he also saw identification.
The Warren Commission?s oceanic indifference to actual and potential witnesses is well-documented, and evidently no effort was made to find either the fake Secret Service man nor  ?the hysterical woman.?
And she is worth pondering.

The Hysterical Woman

There are two main possibilities defining the hysterical woman who approached Patrolman Smith with word about gunmen in bushes that day in Dealey Plaza:

1)   She was an earnest witness. If this is the case, it is an acute loss that she was not detained and interviewed. For starters, the first question would be: ?Which bushes?? Clues such as footprints or shreds of cloth on bush branches might be looked for. She seems to have had a more definite idea of the origins of noise and gunsmoke than most witnesses that day, most of whom could only say in general they heard shots or saw or smelled smoke in the area of the Grassy Knoll.
2)   She was part of a diversion. This is an interesting conjecture, since her efforts, along with the noise, sight and smell of gunsmoke, worked so effectively to divert police resources to the Grassy Knoll and railroad yards, and away from shots fired at the president from well behind his limousine. If the hysterical woman was an earnest witness, why did she never come forward and direct authorities to the bushes she had in mind?
The Diversion

Indeed, the copious amount of gunsmoke released at the precise time the president was being assassinated in Dealey Plaza raises the question of intentional diversion.
Sometimes Warren Commission supporters hazard that modern guns do release smoke, and so the whole gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza story is meaningless, but that is a patently incorrect and, well, a diversion. 
Modern gunpowder and weapons only release less smoke than old-fashioned black powder, and even today gun enthusiasts say cheap ammo is smoky.
Nevertheless, a single shot from a rifle with good-quality 1960s-era ammo would likely not leave Dealey Plaza ?reeking? of gunsmoke, or leave Yarborough?s car impregnated with odor.

A Handgun And Smokey Ammo?

As it turns out, handguns are generally louder and smokier than same-caliber rifles, or long guns.
The longer barrel of a rifle suppresses noise, muzzle flash and smoke, in comparison to a handgun.
Moreover, a ?snub-nose? handgun is louder yet, releasing the most muzzle flash and smoke.
Interestingly, the snub-nose .38 Smith & Wesson was a common gun in the 1960s, readily available and nearly standard issue to anyone who carried a concealed weapon.
In addition, the .38 is a favorite among ?hand-loaders,? or gun enthusiasts who load their own cartridges, and select their own gunpowders?including varieties of smoky ?black powder.? The lubing on lead bullets, as opposed to copper-jacketed or steel-jacketed bullets, is also known to increase smokiness.
All that said, an individual could have hidden in the bushes by the Dealey Plaxa colonnade-pergola on Nov. 22, and fired one or two hand-loaded shots from a .38 snubnose not at the motorcade, but well higher over the motorcade, indeed high enough to clear Dealey Plaza. The result would be the sound of gunshots and plenty of gunsmoke pouring toward Elm Street.

Improvised Explosive Device?

Modern-day commercial firecrackers use ?flash powder,? a different formulation than gunpowder, and which smells different after combustion.
But historically, firecrackers were made with gunpowder, and amateurs can easily fabricate same, and still do. A firecracker is little more than thick paper wound tightly around explosive powder, plus a fuse.
This raises the possibility that someone fabricated one or two large firecrackers with ample amounts of gunpowder?more gunpowder than would be used in just two bullet cartridges?which they ignited as the presidential motorcade passed. This would account for Dealey Plaza ?reeking? of gunsmoke after the motorcade passed.
Many Dealey Plaza witnesses said the first shot sounded different from the following two shots, and many say the first shot sounded like a firecracker. Maybe it was. 
In summary, creating explosions and copious amounts of gunsmoke in Dealey Plaza was easily done 1963, with materials readily available at the time.
Worth noting is that 21 law enforcement officers that day in Dealey Plaza thought the sound of gunshots had come from the Grassy Knoll.

G. Robert Blakey And The Missed Shot

G. Robert Blakey, chief counsel to the 1977-8 HSCA and a conspiracy proponent, has stated that if there was a shot at President Kennedy from the Grassy Knoll on Nov. 22, then it missed.
This is a possibility, but seems unlikely. Missing a head shot from 75 feet is one thing, but missing the whole stretch limousine?
There is no one who says the presidential limo was struck on the side, or on the capacious rear hood, or the front hood. The front seat occupants were uninjured.
No one says there was a bullet striking the grass on the south side of Elm St. and no witnesses were struck.
If it is accepted that the head shot on President Kennedy was from behind, then a logical deduction is no one shot at the president from the Grassy Knoll. But there could have been shots from the Grassy Knoll, but not aimed at Kennedy.

The Diversion

Taking the above as premise, the obvious hypothesis is someone concealed themselves in the bushes near the Grassy Knoll or adjacent colonnade on Nov. 22, and then as the Presidential motorcade passed, fired an easily concealed snub-nose .38, armed with hand-loaded and intentionally smoky gunpowder and bullets. They fired well over the presidential motorcade, indeed intending to miss all bystanders and nearby buildings. Their role was diversion from the actual assassins, who were behind the president by 80 yards. 
Or, one or two black-powder loaded firecrackers would have also sufficed. 
This individual then carefully retreated to the railroad yard, not running, and perhaps feigning that he was a law-enforcement officer searching for perpetrators. There, the diversionist was accosted by Patrolman Smith, but he flashed his phony Secret Service identification. Eventually, the suspect melted into the commotion, and was never seen again.
Yes, ?only? a diversion on the Grassy Knoll.  And a successful one.
But even a diversion means a conspiracy.

I did not devise the ?Grassy Knoll as a Diversion? scenario merely as a debating platform. I come to this scenario by deduction, and after accepting Blakey's conclusion that no one shot the President from the Grassy Knoll.
Nevertheless, there is nothing in the Warren Commission, or in the HSCA reports, or in books authored by Gerald Posner, Bill O?Reilly or Vincent Bugliosi that can refute or rebut the ?Grassy Knoll as a Diversion? hypothesis.
The Lone Nut crowd can offer authoritative (if debated) medical forensics on the head shot?just one and from behind, for example?and they can justifiably recount the many clues pointing to Lee Harvey Oswald?s guilt and mental condition. They can chose to ignore links between Oswald and the CIA, or between Jack Ruby and the Mob, which are not conclusive on their own. The testimony about the rapidity of gunshots that day in Dealey Plaza is inconsistent.
But the indisputable facts remain that at the exact time President Kennedy was being shot, experienced witnesses thought there was the sound of gunfire from the Grassy Knoll; there was the heavy odor of ignited gunpowder; there was visible gunsmoke; and within moments there was a suspect flashing phony Secret Service identification in the railroad yards. 
And also a hysterical woman telling Patrolman Smith that somebody was shooting at President Kennedy ?from the bushes.?
If there was no Grassy Knoll gunman on Nov. 22, then what remains is likely to have been an intentional diversion.

The Fun Update!

Okay, in scrolling around the web, I came across this little nugget:

The morning of Nov. 23 a paper sack was found at the corner of Ross and Lamar in Dallas, which is about five blocks from Dealey Plaza. And inside the sack was a snub-nose .38 Smith & Wesson, precisely the type of weapon I have suggested would be perfect for staging a diversion in the area of the Grassy Knoll-Pergola at the time of the assassination.

Now, of course, at this late date it is impossible to divine much about the snub-nose revolver, which may have been tossed aside after a routine thug-land crime. The FBI has not been forthcoming with paperwork on the snub-nose, which they took into possession, after the DPD found it.

Still, how often are revolvers found inside paper bags on the street? Even in Texas? If a thug wanted to dispose of the weapon to avoid tracing, would not he toss it into a dumpster or pond?

This suggests someone had to dispose of the weapon hurriedly. Did my proposed diversion perp see others being detained by the DPD, and decide to toss his weapon ASAP?

Final oddity: The cylinder of the found snub-nose, serial #893265, was stamped with the word "England."  The gun-blogs say that means the revolver in question was manufactured and exported to Britain during WWII, re-imported to the US often in bulk, and then cut down to snub-nose length, often re-chambered to .38 specials.

Another cheap imported weapon ordered through a magazine ad?



« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 05:44:48 AM by Benjamin Cole »

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Offline Benjamin Cole

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2018, 12:56:17 PM »

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Well, I think the Grassy Knoll smoke and gunshot show was a diversion, but perhaps not from the TSBD. As many have speculated, perhaps there were assassins in the Dal-Tex building.

The purpose of the diversion was to help the assassins escape.

In fact, the diversion worked well. Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry's first words after the gunshots were to get someone up to the Triple Overpass, and of course most police officers went to the Grassy Knoll area first.

But even if Oswald was the lone assassin firing at the president, if there were a Grassy Knoll diversion, then there was a conspiracy.

Offline Jerry Organ

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 06:10:58 PM »
Holland went from claiming one "shot" ("firecracker, or something") from the knoll area in 1964 to claiming in 1968 that he heard three shots from the knoll.

He also went from saying he first ran to behind the "arcade" (pergola) to saying he first ran to the fence corner.

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 06:10:58 PM »

Offline Ray Mitcham

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 07:31:15 PM »
Holland went from claiming one "shot" ("firecracker, or something") from the knoll area in 1964 to claiming in 1968 that he heard three shots from the knoll.

He also went from saying he first ran to behind the "arcade" (pergola) to saying he first ran to the fence corner.

From Holland's first day affidavit.

"and when they got just about to the Arcade I heard what I thought for the moment was a fire cracker and he slumped over and I looked 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. I immediately ran around to where I could see behind the arcade and did not see anyone running from there.

Offline Dan DAlimonte

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2018, 08:26:27 PM »

Hey, Benjamin.  There has been several diversion fake gunfire or test shots or shots intended
to miss theories presented here over the years and they all have a basic flaw.  If the main intent
was to shoot and kill.  Any type of these - shots - (esp, the first) may have forced a duck and cover
maneuver by the occupants of the limo or a reaction from the SS.  I don't think it would have been
worth the risk.  If, however, you're proposing a middle diversion then that means the direction of the
first real shot could have been pointed out by people in the crowd anyway.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 08:33:31 PM by Dan DAlimonte »

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2018, 08:26:27 PM »

Offline Gary Craig

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2018, 09:22:19 PM »

Offline Jerry Organ

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2018, 09:47:57 PM »

Wouldn't surprise me that some of those ran there because the motorcade sirens could still be heard in that direction. Robert MacNeil was a NBC reporter who left a press bus that was in the motorcade and ran westward along Elm, initially drawn there by the Newmans on the grass. In the picture, Newman is the man standing on the bridge structure in the suit looking back over his left shoulder. He said he ran to there only because he saw others running there; he had no firsthand reason for ending up there.

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2018, 09:47:57 PM »

Offline Gary Craig

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Re: What If Grassy Knoll Sounds And Smoke Were "Only" A Diversion
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2018, 10:38:01 PM »

1.  Danny Garcia Arces - Shots came from railroad track yards.
2.  Mrs. Donald Sam Baker - Shots came from railroad yards;not possible to come from the TSBD.
3.  Mrs. A. G.(Jane)Berry- Thought shots came from west of her position.
4.  O. V. Campbell - Thought shots came from railroad yard to west of the TSBD.
5.  Mrs. Charles Thomas (Avery) Davis - Thought shots came from triple underpass.
6.  Mrs. John T. (Elsie) Dorman) - She was on the 4th floor of TSBD and thought shots came from Records Building.
7.  Mr. and Mrs. Jack Franzen - Thought shots came from area adjacent to TSBD.
8.  Buell Wesley Frazier - Thought shots came from railroad overpass.
9.  Dorthy Ann Garner - Thought shots came from west of TSBD (she was on 4th floor or TSBD)
10. Bobby W. Hargis - Believes shot came from right front (grassy knoll area) - from overpass
11. Mrs. John Hawkins - Thought shots came from railroad yards adjacent to TSBD.
12. Mrs. Jean Lollis Hill - Thought shots were coming from the knoll, just west of the TSBD.
13. Postal Inspector Harry D. Holmes - Thought shots came from crowd.
14. Mrs. Yola D. Hopson - Did not think the sound (of the shots) came from the TSBD.
15. Emmet Joseph Hudson - Shots came from behind and above him; from rear, high. (He was on steps leading up knoll)
16. Mrs. George Andrew Kounas - Thought shots came from the west.
17. Secret Service Agent Paul E. Landis Jr. - 1st shot came from behind and over right shoulder; 2nd shot came from right   front and hit President's head.
18. Billy Nolan Lovelady - Thought shots came from the knoll of from across the street.
19. Judith L. McCully - From right side of arcade building.
20. Austin Lawerence Miller - Shots came from his left (he was standing on the triple underpass).
21. A. J. Millican - Shots came from the pergola.
22. Joe R. Molina - Shots came from west side (he was on steps of TSBD.
23. Thomas J. Murphy - Shots came from spot just west of TSBD.
24. Mrs. P. E. Newman - Shots came from her right (west). She was halfway from TSBD to Stemmons Freeway sign.
25. William E Newman, Jr. - Shots came from "garden" directly behind Newman (he was standing at east end of pergola)
26. Mrs. William V. Parker - First shot came from pergola.
27. J. C. Price - Assumed shots from Triple Underpass.
28. Frank E. Reilly - Shots came from trees at west end of pergola on north side of Elm. (He was standing on                  Triple Underpass). 
29. Mrs. A. L. Rowland - Shots came from railroad yard.
30. W. H. (Bill) Shelly - Shots came from west (he was on TSBD steps)
31. Police Officer Edgar Leon Smith, Jr. - Shots came from railroad yard or grassy knoll area.
32. Officer Joe Marshall Smith - Thought shots came from Elm St.extension, bushes of the overpass.
33. Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels - Shots came from knoll;'top of terrace to my right.
34. James Thomas Tague - Shots came from bushes at pergola.
35. Roy S. Truly - Shots came from west of TSBD.
36. Deputy Sheriff Harry Weatherford - Shots came from railroad yard.
37. County Surveyor Robert M. West - Shots came from northeast quadrant of Dealy Plaza.
38. Lupe Whitaker - Shots came from west of TSBD.
39. Otis Neville Williams - Came from direction of Triple Underpass.
40. Steven F. Wilson - Shots came from west end of building or pergola; not above.
    (He was on 3rd floor of TSBD)

41. Mary Elizabeth Woodward - Possibly came from overpass.
42. Abraham Zapruder - Shots came from in back of him.
43. Deputy Sheriff Harold Elkins
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 10:57:20 PM by Gary Craig »