Perp arrested in one of America’s most infamous murders.
On November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m., President Kennedy was shot as his motorcade passed through Dallas’s Dealey Plaza. In the chaos that followed, Kennedy was removed to Parkland Memorial Hospital while secret service and police officers tried to find out where the shots came from.
By the time Lee Harvey Oswald’s sniper hide was discovered and the Carcano Model 38 rifle was recovered on the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository, Oswald had fled the scene. Dallas police were notified of the shooting and units were given a possible description of the shooter.
Some two and half miles away, Dallas Patrolman JD Tippit was on solo patrol in his marked car. Tippit was an 11-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department and a decorated veteran. Tippit had enlisted in the Army during World War 2 and served in the elite 17th Airborne Division in Europe. While fighting in Germany he was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor. He had also been twice decorated for bravery by the Dallas Police Department.
On this warm November day, Tippit was on the lookout for Kennedy’s assassin. He had been given a vague description of a thin white male of medium height seen leaving the Texas Book Depository.
At 1:12 p.m. Tippit observed Lee Harvey Oswald walking on East 10th Street near Patton Avenue. He was drawn to the jacket Oswald was wearing, pretty unusual for the warm day. (This is one of the textbook indicators of suspicious activity that can help lead to legal justification for a stop, question, and frisk.) Oswald also matched the vague description read out over the police radio. A witness stated that Oswald may have changed direction at the sight of the patrol car coming down the block (another textbook indicator for a stop).
Tippit pulled up next to Oswald and called him over to his patrol car. The content of their conversation is unknown, but it raised Tippit’s level of suspicion enough for him to get out of the car and engage the assassin. As Tippit approached Oswald to frisk him, the gunman produced a Smith and Wesson Model 10 revolver and opened fire.
Tippit was struck three times in the chest. He fell to the ground, reaching for his own revolver. Oswald stood over him and shot him once in the head, killing Patrolman Tippit instantly.
A civilian got on the patrol car’s radio as Oswald fled and relayed the incident. As cops responded, a witness observed Oswalt suspiciously dip into the nearby Texas Theatre. Dallas police were notified and nabbed Oswald as he was sitting through a showing of War is Hell. Without Patrolman’s Tippit’s stop, question, and frisk of Oswald, the Kennedy Assassination may have never been solved.
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