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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

The Sixth Floor Museum's Oral History Project with Paul Landis

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

During the interview, Landis says he heard three shots and tries to reconcile that with his statements from November 1963 in which he mentioned two shots. Now, he says that all the shots came from behind.

Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (46:52 remaining)

Paul Landis: ... we had really slowed down to a crawl at that point. And we had just completed our turn. I'm looking to my right. Still very few people. I'm thinking, of what I could see, a building I have, I have just kind of assumed that it was empty and that the employees were down in front of the building. And just as we straightened out, bam, I heard the first shot, and came from over my right shoulder. I knew right away it was gunshot the mind starts thinking Jack really says I'm a firecracker. That I don't think so I don't see any smoke. Even though I know that it was a gunshot, you don't want to believe it's happening. And when that happened, I've been scanning the crowd and I just happened to look straight ahead, and I was looking in the President's direction. I saw him kind of lurch forward. My first thought, my reaction was, I didn't realize he'd been hit, I thought he was starting to turn, to look to see where the sound had come from. I immediately turned again to look at the crowd. I saw nothing, saw nobody, nothing unusual there, and by the time I had scanned ahead to the president's limo, there was a second shot. Again, not wanting to believe it, all this time, I mean the mind is really going -- let's get going, get out of here. It was, we couldn't move fast enough. Meantime, I had seen Clint running for the limo. The second shot, I thought, I didn't see any reaction or anything happening. I thought that maybe the car had a blowout. We're like in an echo chamber there, reverberating. I couldn't see, the tires looked ok. All I could see was the right front tire of the limo. We were so close, I couldn't see anything else on the car. And just about then, I looked up, and Clint had made it to the car and I was saying like, go, go, go, thinking in my mind. And then I heard, I was looking right at the president, heard the third shot, saw his head explode and the blood and flesh fly.

And there was like, wow, I knew that they got him. And the next thing I knew we're under the underpass and we're flying towards the hospital. I did not know; I had no idea where a hospital was, where we were going. All I knew is we're finally getting out of the area.

Stephen Fagin: You knew, at that moment, that the President was dead?

Paul Landis: There was no way. I mean, I had seen demonstration shooting, hunter safety courses, shoot like into a watermelon or a gallon jug of water and the way that it would explode. There was, a head wound like that, I just knew. Clint, in the meantime, had gotten up on the limo and he turned around and gave a thumbs down sign. And that was pretty much it.

Stephen Fagin: You herd three shots total?

Paul Landis: Yes. Interesting, I hadn't read my, we had all made a statement. In my statement, after several years, then I've taken it out to reread. I had mentioned two shots, but I had also mentioned second shot, blowout, talking about that, and then I referred to later, the second shot. So, I, there were definitely three shots and I knew they all came from back here.

So, three shots from behind. Landis tries to reconcile his 'new' recollection of three shots with his earlier reports from November 1963. Unsuccessfully, I think. Just go to the reports and I don't see how they reconcile with this oral history project.

Landis then talks about what happened: (about 38:00 minutes left)

Paul Landis: ... and there was a little delay there because we had to Governor Connally out. I was not aware that he had been shot at that time, and Mrs. Connally, and then the President, and then finally Clint walked through with Mrs. Kennedy and I had stepped into the limo also and I saw there was a bloody cigarette lighter on the seat and a bouquet of roses and her hat. And I picked up her hat and the lighter and we left the limo, and I followed them to the hospital.

No mention of finding a bullet or a bullet fragment. He just took the cigarette lighter and Mrs. Kennedy's hat.

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