Kenneth O'Donnell's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(O'Donnell was in the middle right seat of the Presidential follow up car.)

MR. SPECTER - Do you recall the scene when you left the Main Street of downtown Dallas, with respect specifically to the presence of a large building which was immediately ahead of the motorcade?
Mr. O'DONNELL - I did not. I was looking at the crowd. And I frankly didn't look at the building, except when there were people in the windows. And as we made that turn, I had been standing - I remember I sat down. And as far as I was concerned, that was the end - we were then going to the luncheon - and I didn't notice any building at all. MR. SPECTER - Were you familiar with the identity of the specific plaza there, being known as Dealey Plaza?
Mr. O'DONNELL - I was not. I afterward have reflected on it many times.
MR. SPECTER - Tell us what occurred then as you made that turn away from the crowded downtown Dallas area and headed toward the plaza area.
Mr. O'DONNELL - Well, I sat down. I remember saying to Dave Powers that it was a fantastic crowed. He agreed.
We turned. I remember the overpass. And then the shots occurred - which, at the time, I did not know were shots. My first impression was it was a firecracker. And then either somebody said, "he has been hit," or I noticed the slump - he had been waving out the right side of the car and I noticed him slump over toward Mrs. Kennedy, and I realized then that they had been shots. But as fast as that realization occurred, I saw the third shot hit. It was such a perfect shot - I remember I blessed myself. I was rather convinced that was a fatal blow.
MR. SPECTER - When you say you made the turn, which way did the motorcade turn?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Turned to the left
MR. SPECTER - And approximately how far behind the Presidential vehicle was the follow-up car at that time?
Mr. O'DONNELL - My guess would be 5 to 8 feet, the normal - When there are large crowds, pressing in on the side, they try to stay close. It was moving at a steady pace. The crowds were orderly. So he was at a normal - I would presume they were just about turning to step up the speed a little bit, because there would be no crowds from there.
MR. SPECTER - What is the your best estimate of the speed of the President's vehicle at that time?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Well, I would think we probably were going between 15 and 20, up until that moment, and I think that he probably had just begun to accelerate probably up to about 25, somewhere in that vicinity.
MR. SPECTER - Had the Secret Service follow-up car completed its left-hand turn prior to the time the shots rang out?
Mr. O'DONNELL - My recollection is they had, just about.
I don't recollect a separation of this nature. It was a slight sloping turn, as I remember, and I thought we were right together.
MR. SPECTER - So that when you indicated with your hands, you were showing a pattern of the Secret Service car having made the turn and straightened up immediately behind the Presidential vehicle proceeding down the street?
Mr. O'DONNELL - That is my impression.
MR. SPECTER - And was the overpass in sight at the time, did you say?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Yes; it was.
MR. SPECTER - On which side of the car was President Kennedy seated?
Mr. O'DONNELL - He was on the right side.
MR. SPECTER - The extreme right?
Mr. O'DONNELL - The extreme right.
MR. SPECTER - And what was he doing with his hands prior to the time of the shooting, if you recall?
Mr. O'DONNELL - He was waving. We had left the mass of crowds. But as we turned on the grass plot there were for or five people there, and I believe he waved to them.
MR. SPECTER - Indicating a right-handed wave?
MR. SPECTER - Where was Governor Connally seated with respect to the President?
Mr. O'DONNELL - He was directly in front of the President.
MR. SPECTER - Do you know whether or not the President's seat was raised or was in its extreme low position at the time?
Mr. O'DONNELL - I would not know.
MR. SPECTER - Do you know what the President's practice was as to whether or not the seat would be raised?
Mr. O'DONNELL - I don't know that, either.
MR. SPECTER - Do you know what the controls were on the Presidential automobile for raising or lowering the President's seat?
Mr. O'DONNELL - No; I don't.
MR. SPECTER - How many shots were there in all?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Three.
MR. SPECTER - What is your best estimate as to the total time which elapsed from the first shot to the last shot?
Mr. O'DONNELL - I would say 5 to 6 seconds.
MR. SPECTER - And was there any distinguishable tempo to the shots?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Yes; the first two came almost simultaneously, came one right after the other, there was a slight hesitation, then the third one.
MR. SPECTER - And what was your recollection as to the source of the shots, if you had one?
Mr. O'DONNELL - My reaction in part is reconstruction - is that they came from the right rear. That would be my best judgement.
MR. SPECTER - Was there any reaction by any other people around in any specific direction?
Mr. O'DONNELL - The agents all turned to the rear. I would think, watching the reaction of the President when the shots - the first shot hit - that it would be automatic it would have to have come from the rear. I think an experienced agent would make that assumption immediately.
MR. SPECTER - And was the reaction of the agents which you have referred to as coming from the rear, to the right rear or to the left rear?
Mr. O'DONNELL - The reaction I note would be right rear. And again, looking at the manner of the President's movement, I would think you would have to feel the thrust of the shot was from the right rear.
MR. SPECTER - Now, what was thee about the President's movement which leads you to that conclusion?
Mr. O'DONNELL - He was leaning out waving. he may have just been withdrawing his hand. And the shot hit him, and threw him to the left. He slumped on Mrs. Kennedy.
MR. SPECTER - Were you able to determine a reaction on that slumping movement, as to whether it was the first, the second, or the third shot?
Mr. O'DONNELL - It was not the third shot. Whether it was the first or the second, I would not know.
MR. SPECTER - Do you think it could have been the second shot?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Yes; I do. If I had to pick one of the two, I think it might have been the second shot. It seemed to be - but, again, it is a foggy recollection - it seemed to have been that his movement coincided - with such a slight difference in time, that is just guesswork.
MR. SPECTER - Did you observe any reaction of Governor Connally in the car?
Mr. O'DONNELL - I saw the Governor turn toward the President. The President, in that period of time, had been - they were one right behind the other. And the only reason I would even notice it was the President had slumped to the left, the Governor then turned, and he was in my view. Otherwise, he would not have been. But the president slumped over, and, therefore, the Governor just turned and I could see him. I had no knowledge that he had been hit at that time.
MR. SPECTER - When did you get the first knowledge that he had been hit?
Mr. O'DONNELL - When the third shot came. The president was hit. The motorcade accelerated. And one of the agents said, "The Governor has been hit, too."
MR. SPECTER - Prior to the time that President Kennedy shifted to the left, then, could you see the Governor at all from your position?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Depending on how each one moved, normally, no. The President was directly behind the Governor. But if the President was over to the right waving, then you could see the Governor.
MR. SPECTER - On the Presidents left when the Governor -
Mr. O'DONNELL - If the President was all the way to the right, the Governor, who was in front of him, would be visible to us. If they were both sitting, they were not. But they did confer back and fourth. So the Governor was visible upon occasion. But when he turned around, it was really the first time I had been able to see him clearly.
MR. SPECTER - At a time, though, when the President was on the extreme right-hand side, waving, would the Governor then have been visible on the President's left or his right?
Mr. O'DONNELL - He would be on his left.
MR. SPECTER - Was the jump seat situated, if you know, to the precise front of the President to the right, to the left, or what?
Mr. O'DONNELL - I don't know.
MR. SPECTER - What reaction did you observe, if any, as to Mrs. Kennedy during the shots?
Mr. O'DONNELL - Well, he slumped on her. She appeared to be immediately aware that something had happened. She turned toward him. And then the third shot hit. Obviously, she then knew what happened. She turned, looking at the backup car. Meanwhile Agent Hill had gotten off the car and started running up. She was clambering toward the back, and reached his hand, and he was on the car.
MR. SPECTER - Did you observe any reactions in the President's car other than those which you have testified about?
MR. SPECTER - At what point did the motorcade accelerate?
Mr. O'DONNELL - It accelerated, I would think, right at about the time that Agent Hill grabbed onto the back of the car, which would be just a few seconds after the last shot.

Posner - O'Donnell's testimony is consistent with Posner's theory

Harris - O'Donnell does not support Harris's theory concerning the timing of the first three shots, and does not give any support for the fourth shot

David Powers' affidavit (back to the list of witnesses)

(Powers was in the middle right seat of the Presidential follow up car.)

We then turned off of Main Street onto Houston and made the sharp to the left up Elm Street.
At the time we were traveling very slowly, no more than 12 miles an hour. In accordance with my custom, I was very much concerned about our timing and at just about that point I looked at my watch and noted it was almost exactly 12:30 p.m., which was the time we were due at the Trade Mart. I commented to Ken O'Donnell that it was 12:30 and we would only be about five minutes late when we arrived at the Trade Mart. Shortly thereafter the first shot went off and it sounded to me as if it were a firecracker. I noticed then that the President moved quite far to his left after the shot from the extreme right hand side where he had been sitting. There was a second shot and Governor Connally disappeared from sight and then there was a third shot which took off the top of the President's head and had the sickening sound of a grapefruit splattering against the side of a wall. The total time between the first and third shots was about 5 or 6 seconds.

Posner & Harris - Powers' affidavit lacks enough detail to support or contradict either theory.

Forrest Sorrels' Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Sorrels was in the car before the Presidential Limousine.)

Mr. STERN - Why don't you tell us now in your own words and in as much detail as you remember exactly what you recall transpired next.
Mr. SORRELS - The crowd had begun to thin out after we made the turn on Elm Street there. As a matter of explanation, Elm Street goes at a downgrade--in other words, as I said a moment ago, it makes more than a left-hand--oblique left-hand turn. It curves back--I mean it is more of a sharp angle than a right angle. And then it swings down a little curve to go into the underpass.
There is a sidewalk and terrace that goes up to the right, increasing in height as you approach the underpass from the corner at Elm and Houston Streets.
We were running late, because the President arrived at Love Field late.
Mr. Lawson was particularly concerned, as we all are, in keeping the schedule.
I looked back to see how close the President's car was in making the turn, because we had begun to pick up speed after we made the left-hand turn.
Then I looked back to the right.
Mr. STERN - How close was the President's car?
Mr. SORRELS - At that time we were probably, oh, I would say, several car lengths ahead of it, because we had begun to pick up speed.
Mr. STERN - You think somewhat further than you estimated before?
Mr. SORRELS - As we came around Houston, yes, sir; came around on Houston, yes, because we had begun to pick up speed there. And I remember Mr. Lawson turned around and said, "I wish he would come on, because we are late now," or words to that effect.
And I expressed to him, I said, "Oh, we are not going to be very late."
And I looked at my watch, and it was just about 12:30.
And I said, "We are not going to be over 5 minutes late," and the Chief of Police, I believe, spoke up and said, "We are about 5 minutes away now."
And so they called on the radio to the Trade Mart that we were 5 minutes away.
And it seemed like almost instantly after that, the first shot was heard.
Mr. STERN - Now, did you recognize it at the time as a shot?
Mr. SORRELS - I felt it was, because it was too sharp for a backfire of an automobile. And, to me, it appeared a little bit too loud for a firecracker.
I just said, "What's that?" And turned around to look up on this terrace part there, because the sound sounded like it came from the back and up in that direction.
At that time, I did not look back up to the building, because it was way back in the back.
Within about 3 seconds, there were two more similar reports. And I said, "Let's get out of here" and looked back, all the way back, then, to where the President's car was, and I saw some confusion, movement there, and the car just seemed to lunch forward.
And, in the meantime, a motorcycle officer had run up on the right-hand side and the chief yelled to him, "Anybody hurt?"
He said, "Yes."
He said, "Lead us to the hospital."
And the chief took his microphone and told them to alert the hospital, and said, "Surround the building." He didn't say what building. He just said, "Surround the building." And by that time we had gotten almost in under the underpass, and the President's car had come up and was almost abreast of us.
When I saw them get so close, I said, "Let's get out quick," or "Get going fast," or something to that effect. In other words, I didn't want them to pass us, because I knew we were supposed to be in front.
And that is when they floor-boarded the accelerator on the police car and we got out in front. And someone yelled loudly to go to the nearest hospital.
Mr. STERN - Let's stop there and go back, and then we will pick up again.
You testified that you heard three reports?
Mr. SORRELS - Yes, sir.
Mr. STERN - Are you pretty certain about that?
Mr. SORRELS - Positive.
Mr. STERN - And no more and no fewer?
Mr. SORRELS - No, sir.
Mr. STERN - Can you tell us anything about the spacing of these reports?
Mr. SORRELS - Yes. There was to me about twice as much time between the first and second shots as there was between the second and third shots.
Mr. STERN - Can you estimate the overall time from the first shot to the third shot?
Mr. SORRELS - Yes. I have called it out to myself, I have timed it, and I would say it was very, very close to 6 seconds.
Mr. STERN - It sounds like you can still hear the shots.
Mr. SORRELS - I will hear them forever--it is something I cannot wipe from my mind ever.
Mr. STERN - And you had little doubt that this was gunfire at the time?
Mr. SORRELS - After--as I said before, on the first shot, it was too sharp to be a backfire of an automobile. It just didn't sound like that at all. And then, of course, the other two coming as quickly as they did, and the confusion, there was no question, because I said, "Get out of here," meaning to move out, because certainly if there is anything going on like that, we don't want to even be stationary or near stationary--it is to get out of the vicinity as quickly as we can from the source of danger. I thought in my mind--my thought was that I should maybe get out to try to help apprehend who it was and so forth. There was no chance for that, because we were moving too fast.
Mr. STERN - Now, as to the apparent source of these reports, did you feel that all three reports came from the same direction?
Mr. SORRELS - Yes. Definitely so.
Mr. STERN - And that direction, as nearly as you can place it, was what?
Mr. SORRELS - To the right and back. That is about the only way I can express it.
And, as I said, the noise from the shots sounded like they may have come back up on the terrace there. And that is the reason I was looking around like that when the first shot. And I continued to look out until the other two shots. And then I turned on around and looked back to where the President's car was, and that is when I saw some movement there, and the car just seemed to leap forward.
Mr. STERN - When you looked at the terrace to the right of Elm Street, did you observe any unusual movement?
Mr. SORRELS - No; I didn't see anything unusual at that time.
Mr. STERN - Were you looking at that terrace when either the second or third shot was fired?
Mr. SORRELS - Yes; I was. And I saw just some movement of some people, but no firearms or anything like that, because we began to move out rather rapidly. And we were quite a ways down the street at that time.
Mr. STERN - How do you mean movement of people?
Mr. SORRELS - It seems I recall someone turned around and was going in the other direction, like moving away from the street. And that is all I can recall.
Mr. STERN - But you didn't observe anything that led you to feel that the shots might have been fired from that terrace there?
Mr. SORRELS - No, sir.
Mr. STERN - It sounded to you at first as though it came from there?
Mr. SORRELS - That is the way it sounded--back into the rear and to the right, back up in that direction. And in the direction, of course, of the building.
But the reports seemed to be so loud, that it sounded like to me in other words, that was my first thought, somebody up on the terrace, and that is the reason I looked there.
As we were approaching the overpass there, Mr. Lawson remarked that there was an officer on the overpass there. I saw a police officer standing there with two or three other persons over to his right.
Mr. STERN - Where is this?
Mr. SORRELS - On the overpass, on Elm Street, after we leave the corner of Elm and Houston.
There was no activity there. They were just standing there.
And I remarked, as I recall, "A policeman is there," or words to that effect, because Mr. Lawson had been checking, as well as myself, all of the overpasses, to see that the officer was there, because that is one of the specific things that was checked all the way through.
Mr. STERN - And you observed nothing unusual on the overpass?
Mr. SORRELS - No, sir.
Mr. STERN - Were the people on the overpass in a fairly tight group, or spread out over the overpass?
Mr. SORRELS - As I recall it, the police officer was about the center of the overpass on Elm Street, and then to his right--I mean to my right which would have been his left, there seemed to be, as I recall it, about three other persons up there that appeared to be workmen or dressed like that, and they were to his right.
They were not right close together, but standing within walking distance.
Mr. STERN - As far as you can recall, were all the people you saw on the overpass within the sight of the policeman on the overpass?
Mr. SORRELS - Oh, yes; they were in the same vicinity.
Mr. STERN - Do you have any reason to believe that any of these shots might have come from the overpass?
Mr. SORRELS - None whatsoever; no, sir.
Mr. STERN - And are you certain in your own mind that they did not come from the overpass?
Mr. SORRELS - Positive.
Mr. STERN - Do you have any reason to believe that the shots could not have come from the Book Depository Building?
Mr. SORRELS - No, sir.
Mr. STERN - Would shots from the Book Depository Building have been consistent with your hearing of the shots?
Mr. SORRELS - Yes; they would have.

Posner & Harris - Sorrels' testimony is confusing because he gives inconsistent numbers. He first claims 3 seconds from the first shot to the second, and then claims the second to third was twice as long, that would be 3 plus 6 for a total of 9 seconds. He then claims the time between the first and the last was 6 seconds. If you use that with the twice as long statement you would have 4 seconds between the first and second, and 2 between the second and third, which is close to Harris's theory.

Jesse Curry's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Curry was in the car before the Presidential Limousine.)

Mr. RANKIN - Do you know or can you tell us approximately where the President's car was at the time of the first shot that you heard?
Mr. CURRY - To the best of my knowledge, I would say it was approximately halfway between Houston Street and the underpass, which would be, I would say probably 125-150 feet west of Houston Street.
Mr. RANKIN - Can you give us the approximate location of where it was when you heard the second shot?
Mr. CURRY - Well, it would have been just a few feet further because these shots were in fairly rapid succession.
Mr. RANKIN - How many feet do you mean?
Mr. CURRY - I would say perhaps, and this is Just an estimate on my part, perhaps 25 or 30 feet further along.
Mr. RANKIN - Then at the time of the third shot?
Mr. CURRY - A few feet further, perhaps 15-20 feet further.
Mr. RANKIN - Do you have an opinion as to the time that expired between the first shot and the third shot?
Mr. CURRY - This is just an opinion on my part but I would think perhaps 5 or 6 seconds.
Mr. RANKIN - Did you hear any more than three shots?
Mr. CURRY - No, sir; I did not.
Mr. RANKIN - Are you sure of that?
Mr. CURRY - I am positive of that. I heard three shots. I will never forget it.

Posner & Harris - Curry's Testimony lacks enough detail to support or contradict either theory.

Winston Lawson's original report (back to the list of witnesses)

(Lawson was in the car before the Presidential Limousine.)

At the corner of Houston and Elm Streets I verified with Chief Curry that we were about five minutes from the Trade Mart and gave this signal over my portable White House Communications radio. We were just approaching a railroad overpass and I checked to see if a police officer was in position there and that no one was directly over our path. I noticed a police officer but also noticed a few persons on the bridge and made motions to have these persons removed from over our path. As the Lead Car was passing under this bridge I heard the first loud, sharp report and in more rapid succession two more sounds like gunfire. I could see persons to the left of the motorcade vehicles running away. I noticed Agent Hickey standing up in the follow-up car with the automatic weapon and first thought he had fired at someone.

Posner & Harris - Lawson's Statement lacks enough detail to support or contradict either theory.

Abraham Zapruder's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Zapruder was on the north side of Elm Street.)

Mr. LIEBELER - Tell us what happened as you took these pictures.
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Well, as the car came in line almost--I believe it was almost in line. I was standing up here and I was shooting through a telephoto lens, which is a zoom lens and as it reached about--I imagine it was around here--I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this (holding his left chest area).
Mr. LIEBELER - Grab himself on the front of his chest?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Right---something like that. In other words, he was sitting like this and waving and then after the shot he just went like that.
Mr. LIEBELER - He was sitting upright in the car and you heard the shot and you saw the President slump over?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Leaning--leaning toward the side of Jacqueline. For a moment I thought it was, you know, like you say, "Oh, he got me," when you hear a shot--you've heard these expressions and then I saw---I don't believe the President is going to make jokes like this, but before I had a chance to organize my mind, I heard a second shot and then I saw his head opened up and the blood and everything came out and I started--I can hardly talk about it [ the witness crying].
Mr. LIEBELER - That's all right, Mr. Zapruder, would you like a drink of water? Why don't you step out and have a drink of water?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - I'm sorry--I'm ashamed of myself really, but I couldn't help it.
Mr. LIEBELER - Nobody should ever be ashamed of feeling that way, Mr. Zapruder. I feel the same way myself. It was a terrible thing.
Let me go back now for just a moment and ask you how many shots you heard altogether.
Mr. ZAPRUDER - I thought I heard two, it could be three, because to my estimation I thought he was hit on the second--I really don't know. The whole thing that has been transpiring--it was very upsetting and as you see I got a little better all the time and this came up again and it to me looked like the second shot, but I don't know. I never even heard a third shot.
Mr. LIEBELER - You didn't hear any shot after you saw him hit?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - I heard the second--after the first shot--I saw him leaning over and after the second shot--it's possible after what I saw, you know, then I started yelling, "They killed him, they killed him," and I just felt that somebody had ganged up on him and I was still shooting the pictures until he got under the underpass--I don't even know how I did it. And then, I didn't even remember how I got down from that abutment there, but there I was, I guess, and I was walking toward--back toward my office and screaming, "They killed him, they killed him," and the people that I met on the way didn't even know what happened and they kept yelling, "What happened, what happened, what happened?" It seemed that they had heard a shot but they didn't know exactly what had happened as the car sped away, and I kept on just yelling, "They killed him, they killed him, they killed him," and finally got to my office and my secretary--I told her to call the police or the Secret Service--I don't know what she was doing, and that's about all. I was very much upset. Naturally, I couldn't imagine such a thing being done. I just went to my desk and stopped there until the police came and then we were required to get a place to develop the films. I knew I had something, I figured it might be of some help--I didn't know what.
As to what happened--I remember the police were running behind me. There were police running right behind me. Of course, they didn't realize yet, I guess, where the shot came from--that it came from that height.
Mr. LIEBELER - As you were standing on this abutment facing Elm street, you say the police ran over behind the concrete structure behind you and down the railroad track behind that, is that right?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - After the shots?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Yes--after the shots--yes, some of them were motorcycle cops--I guess they left their motorcycles running and they were running right behind me, of course, in the line of the shooting. I guess they thought it came from right behind me.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you have any impression as to the direction from which these shots came?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - No, I also thought it came from back of me. Of course, you can't tell when something is in line it could come from anywhere, but being I was here and he was hit on this line and he was hit right in the head--I saw it right around here, so it looked like it came from here and it could come from there.
Mr. LIEBELER - All right, as you stood here on the abutment and looked down into Elm Street, you saw the President hit on the right side of the head and you thought perhaps the shots had come from behind you?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Well, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - From the direction behind you?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Yes, actually--I couldn't say what I thought at the moment, where they came from--after the impact of the tragedy was really what I saw and I started and I said--yelling, "They've killed him"--I assumed that they came from there, because as the police started running back of me, it looked like it came from the back of me.
Mr. LIEBELER - But you didn't form any opinion at that time as to what direction the shots did come from actually?
Mr. LIEBELER - And you indicated that they could have come also from behind or from any other direction except perhaps from the left, because they could have been from behind or even from the front.
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Well, it could have been--in other words if you have a point--you could hit a point from any place, as far as that's concerned. I have no way of determining what direction the bullet was going.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you form any opinion about the direction from which the shots came by the sound, or were you just upset by the thing you had seen?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - No, there was too much reverberation. There was an echo which gave me a sound all over. In other words that square is kind of--it had a sound all over.
Mr. LIEBELER - And with the buildings around there, too?
Mr. ZAPRUDER - Yes, the reverberation was such that a sound--as it would vibrate--it didn't vibrate so much but as to whether it was a backfire--in other words, I didn't from the first sound, from him leaning over--I couldn't think it was a shot, but of course, the second--I think it was the second shot. I don't know whether they proved anything--they claim he was hit--that the first bullet went through him and hit Connally or something like that--I don't know how that is.

Posner & Harris - Zapruder's testimony is to confused to support or contradict either theory.

James Altgen's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Altgens was on the south side of Elm Street.)

Mr. LIEBELER - And at that point did you take another picture?
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.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you say "over here," you indicate what?
Mr. ALTGENS - The left side of the car.
Mr. LIEBELER - That would be approximately the intersection of Elm Street and the little street that runs down in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building; isn't that right?
Mr. ALTGENS - Somewhere in that direction, yes, sir. But if it were a pistol it would have to be fired at close range for any degree of accuracy and there was no one in that area that I could see with any firearms, so I looked back up in this area.
Mr. LIEBELER - Indicating the buildings surrounding the intersection of Houston Street and Elm Street; is that correct?
Mr. ALTGENS - Yes. What made me almost certain that the shot came from behind was because at the time I was looking at the President, just as he was struck, it caused him to move a bit forward. He seemed as if at the time----well, he was in a position-- sort of immobile. He wasn't upright. He was at an angle but when it hit him, it seemed to have just lodged--it seemed as if he were hung up on a seat button or something like that. It knocked him just enough forward that he came right on down. There was flesh particles that flew out of the side of his head in my direction from where I was standing, so much so that it indicated to me that the shot came out of the left side of his head. Also, the fact that his head was covered with blood, the hairline included, on the left side all the way down, with no blood on his forehead or face--- suggested to me, too, that the shot came from the opposite side, meaning in the direction of this Depository Building, but at no time did I know for certain where the shot came from.
Mr. LIEBELER - Because you didn't see who fired it?
Mr. ALTGENS - Because I didn't see who fired it. After the Presidential car moved a little past me, I took another picture--now, just let me back up here--I was prepared to make a picture at the very instant the President was shot. I had refocused to 15 feet because I wanted a good close-up of the President and Mrs. Kennedy, and that's why I know that it would be right at 15 feet, because I had prefocused in that area, and I had my camera almost to my eye when it happened and that's as far as I got with my camera.
Because, you see, even up to that time I didn't know that the President had been shot previously. I still thought up until that time that all I heard was fireworks and that they were giving some sort of celebration to the President by popping these fireworks. It stunned me so at what I saw that I failed to do my duty and make the picture that I was hoping to make.

Later Testimony

Mr. LIEBELER - I have a picture here which has been marked as Commission Exhibit No. 203 and I ask you if that is not the first picture that you took after you left the intersection of Main and Houston and crossed Dealey Plaza and stood on the side of Elm Street across from the Texas School Book Depository Book Building? (note this picture was later determined to have been taken at Zapruder frame Z-255)
Mr. ALTGENS - Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you recognize that as the picture which you took?
Mr. ALTGENS - Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you know any of the individuals depicted in that picture?
Mr. ALTGENS - No, sir; I do not.
Mr. LIEBELER - You testified previously, I believe, that the first shot that was fired had just been fired momentarily before you took the picture, is that right?
Mr. ALTGENS - Yes, sir; it was so close you could almost say it was simultaneous because it was coincidental but nevertheless that's just the way it happened.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you first heard this shot, did you see any reaction either on the part of the President or anyone else that indicated they might have been hit by this shot?
Mr. ALTGENS - No, sir; and as a matter of fact, I did not know that Governor Connally had been hit until one of our reporters got the information out at Parkland Hospital.
Mr. LIEBELER - As the Presidential car went down Elm Street, did you observe Governor Connally's movements at all, did you see what he was doing?
Mr. ALTGENS - No, sir; my attention was primarily on the President and Mrs. Kennedy and I just wasn't paying too much attention about the other people in the car after what I saw happen. Of course, my concern was about the President and I just wasn't paying too much attention to others in the car.
Mr. LIEBELER - You are quite sure in your mind, however, that there were no shots, a noise that sounded like shots, prior to the time at which you took the picture that has been marked Commission Exhibit No. 203; is that correct?
Mr. ALTGENS - No, sir; I did not--you see----all of these shots sounded the same. If you heard one you would recognize the other shots and these were all the same. It was a pop that I don't believe I could identify it any other way than as a firecracker and this particular picture was made at the time the first firecracker noise was heard by me.

Mr. LIEBELER - Now, you don't think that there could have been any other shots fired prior to that time that you wouldn't have heard, you were standing right there and you would have heard them, would you not?
Mr. ALTGENS - I'm sure I would have yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - You also testified that you were standing perhaps no more than 15 feet away when the President was hit in the head and that you are absolutely certain that there were no shots fired after the President was hit in the head?
Mr. ALTGENS - Yes, sir; that's correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - Could you tell us approximately how many shots there were between the first and the last shot--as you well know--there were supposed to have been three shots, but how many shots did you hear?
Mr. ALTGENS - Well, I wouldn't want to say--I don't want to guess, because facts are so important on something like this. I am inclined to feel like that there were not as many as I have heard people say. I think it's of a smaller denomination, a smaller number, but I cannot--I can really only vouch for the two. Now, I know that there was at least one shot in between.
Mr. LIEBELER - At least one?
Mr. ALTGENS - I would say that--I know there was one in between. It is possible there might have been another one I don't really know, but two, I can really account for.
Mr. LIEBELER - And that's the first one and the last one?
Mr. ALTGENS - Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you have any recollection as to the spacing of these shots?
Mr. ALTGENS - They seemed to be at almost regular intervals and they were quick.
Mr. LIEBELER - How much time do you think elapsed between the first and the last shot?
Mr. ALTGENS - Well, let's see---I would have to figure it out on a speed basis because they were going at approximately 12 to 15 miles per hour downhill and I would say that all the shots were fired within the space of less than 30 seconds. That's an estimate.

Posner & Harris - Altgen's testimony lacks enough detail to support or contradict either theory.

Victoria Adams' Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Adams was looking out a window on the fourth floor of the Depository)

Mr. BELIN - Will you state what you saw, what you did, and what you heard?
Miss ADAMS - I watched the motorcade come down Main, as it turned from Main onto Houston, and watched it proceed around the corner on Elm, and apparently somebody in the crowd called to the late President, because he and his wife both turned abruptly and faced the building, so we had a very good view of both of them.
Mr. BELIN - Where was their car as you got .this good view, had it come directly opposite your window? Had it come to that point on Elm, or not, if you can remember
Miss ADAMS - I believe it was prior, just a second or so prior to that.
Mr. BELIN - All right.
Miss ADAMS - And from our vantage point we were able to see what the President's wife was wearing, the roses in the car, and things that would attract men's attention. Then we heard---then we were obstructed from the view.
Mr. BELIN - By what?
Miss ADAMS - A tree. 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, it seemed as if it came from the right below rather than from the left above. Possibly because of the report. And after the third shot, following that, the third shot, I went to the back of the building down the back stairs, and encountered Bill Shelley and Bill Lovelady on the first floor on the way out to the Houston Street dock.

Posner - Adams' testimony does not directly contradict Posner's theory concerning the timing. She thought the shots came from below and not above.

Harris - Adams' testimony is consistent with Harris's timing, Her placement of the shots is troubling for Harris also because she does not say the second shot sounded any different than the first and third. Considering her proximity to the snipers nest, those shots should have had a distinctively different sound than the shot from the Dal-Tex Building.

Marrion Baker's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Baker was riding a motorcycle in the motorcade)

Mr. BELIN - All right.
Now, tell us what happened after you turned on to Houston Street?
Mr. BAKER - AS I got myself straightened up there, I guess it took me some 20, 30 feet, something like that, and it was about that time that I heard these shots come out.
Mr. BELIN - All right.
Could you just tell us what you heard and what you saw and what you did?
Mr. BAKER - As I got, like I say as I got straightened up there, I was, I don't know when these shots started coming off, I just--it seemed to me like they were high, and I just happened to look right straight up---
Mr. DULLES - I wonder if you would just tell us on that chart and I will try to follow with the record where you were at this time, you were coming down Houston.
Mr. BELIN - Sir, if you can--I plan to get that actual chart in a minute. If we could----
Mr. DULLES - I want to see where he was vis-a-vis the building on the chart there.
Mr. BAKER - This is Main Street and this is Houston. This is the corner that I am speaking of; I made the right turn here. The motorcade and all, as I was here turning the front car was turning up here, and as I got somewhere about right here----
Mr. DULLES - That is halfway down the first block.
Mr. BELIN - No, sir; can I interrupt you for a minute?
Mr. DULLES - Certainly.
Mr. BELIN - Officer Baker, when we were in Dallas on March 20, Friday, you walked over with me and showed me about the point you thought your motorcycle was when you heard the first shot, do you remember doing that?
Mr. BAKER - Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN - And then we paced this off measuring it from a distance which could be described as the north curbline of Main Street as extended?
Mr. BAKER - Yes, sir; that would be this one right across here.
Mr. BELIN - And we paced it off as to where you thought your motorcycle was when you heard the first shot and do you remember offhand about where you said this was as to what distance it was, north of the north curbline of Main Street?
Mr. BAKER - We approximated it was 60 to 80 feet there, north of the north curbline of Main on Houston.
Mr. DULLES - Thank you.
Mr. BELIN - Does that answer your question?
Mr. DULLES - That answers my question entirely.
Mr. BELIN - In any event you heard the first shot, or when you heard this noise did you believe it was a shot or did you believe it was something else?
Mr. BAKER - It hit me all at once that it was a rifle shot because I had just got back from deer hunting and I had heard them pop over there for about a week.
Mr. BELIN - What kind of a weapon did it sound like it was coming from?
Mr. BAKER - It sounded to me like it was a high-powered rifle.
Mr. BELIN - All right. When you heard the first shot or the first noise, what did you do and what did you see?
Mr. BAKER - Well, to me, it sounded high and I immediately kind of looked up, and I had a feeling that it came from the building, either right in front of me or of the one across to the right of it.
Mr. BELIN - What would the building right in front of you be?
Mr. BAKER - It would be this Book Depository Building.
Mr. BELIN - That would be the building located on what corner of Houston and Elm?
Mr. BAKER - That would be the northwest corner.
Mr. BELIN - All right. And you thought it was either from that building or the building located where?
Mr. BAKER - On the northeast corner.
Mr. BELIN - All right. Did you see or hear or do anything else after you heard the first noise?
Mr. BAKER - Yes, sir. As I was looking up, all these pigeons began to fly up to the top of the buildings here and I saw those come up and start flying around.
Mr. BELIN - From what building, if you know, do you think those pigeons came from?
Mr. BAKER - I wasn't sure, but I am pretty sure they came from the building right on the northwest corner.
Mr. BELIN - Then what did you see or do?
Mr. BAKER - Well, I immediately revved that motorcycle up and was going up there to see if I could help anybody or see what was going on because I couldn't see around this bend.
Mr. BELIN - Well, between the time you revved up the motorcycle had you heard any more shots?
Mr. BAKER - Yes, sir; I heard--now before I revved up this motorcycle, I heard the, you know, the two extra shots, the three shots.
Mr. BELIN - Do you have any time estimate as to the spacing of any of these shots?
Mr. BAKER - It seemed to me like they just went bang, bang, bang; they were pretty well even to me.
Mr. BELIN - They were pretty well even.
Anything else between the time of the first shot and the time of the last shot that you did up to the time or saw--
Mr. BAKER - No, sir; except I was looking up and I could tell it was high and I was looking up there and I saw those pigeons flying around there.
Mr. BELIN - Did you notice anything in either of those two buildings either on the northeast or northwest corner of Houston and Elm?
Mr. BAKER - No, sir; I didn't.
Mr. BELIN - Were you looking at any of those windows?
Mr. BAKER - I kind of glanced over them, but I couldn't see anything.
Mr. BELIN - How many shots did you hear?
Mr. BAKER - Three.

Posner & Harris - Baker's testimony isn't very detailed, but it tends to support Posner more than Harris.

Lee Bowers' Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Bowers was in the Union Terminal north tower)

Mr. BALL - Were you in a position where you could see the corner of Elm and Houston from the tower?
Mr. BOWERS - No; I could not see the corner of Elm and Houston. I could see the corner of Main and Houston as they came down and turned on, then I couldn't see it for about half a block, and after they passed the corner of Elm and Houston the car came in sight again.
Mr. BALL - You saw the President's car coming out the Houston Street from Main, did you?
Mr. BOWERS - Yes; I saw that.
Mr. BALL - Then you lost sight of it?
Mr. BOWERS - Right. For a moment.
Mr. BALL - Then you saw it again where?
Mr. BOWERS - It came in sight after it had turned the corner of Elm and Houston.
Mr. BALL - Did you hear anything?
Mr. BOWERS - I heard three shots. One, then a slight pause, then two very close together. Also reverberation from the shots.
Mr. BELIN - And were you able to form an opinion as to the source of the sound or what direction it came from, I mean?
Mr. BOWERS - The sounds came either from up against the School Depository Building or near the mouth of the triple underpass.
Mr. BALL - Were you able to tell which?
Mr. BOWERS - No; I could not.

Later Testimony

Mr. BALL - When you heard the sound, which way were you looking?
Mr. BOWERS - At the moment I heard the sound, I was looking directly towards the area---at the moment of the first shot, as close as my recollection serves, the car was out of sight behind this decorative masonry wall in the area.
Mr. BALL - And when you heard the second and third shot, could you see the car?
Mr. BOWERS - No; at the moment of the shots, I could---I do not think that it was in sight. It came in sight immediately following the last shot.

Posner - Bowers' testimony is inconsistent with Posner's timing

Harris - Bowers' testimony is consistent with the first three shots of Harris's theory. He does not support his fourth shot.

Earl Cabell's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Cabell was in the right front seat of the car four cars behind the Presidential Limousine)

Mr. HUBERT - When did you observe anything at all relative to the shooting of the President?
Mr. CABELL - Well, we were just rounding the corner of Market and Elm, making the left turn, when the first shot rang out.
Mr. HUBERT - Would you describe what you saw or heard, please, sir?
Mr. CABELL - 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 the third shots rang out. There was a longer pause between the first and second shots than there was between the second and third shots. They were in rather rapid succession. There was no mistaking in my mind after that, that they were shots from a high-powered rifle.
Mr. HUBERT - Are you familiar with rifles so that your statement that it was your opinion it came from a high-powered rifle was that of a person who knows something about it?
Mr. CABELL - I have done a great deal of hunting and also used military shoulder guns, as well as hunting rifles.
Mr. HUBERT - Were you in the armed services during the war?
Mr. CABELL - No; I was not, but there was no question in my mind as to their being from a high-powered rifle and coming from the direction of the building known as the School Book Depository.
Mr. HUBERT - That you judged, I suppose, by the direction from which you thought the sound came?
Mr. CABELL - Right.
Mr. HUBERT - Could you estimate the number of seconds, say, between the first and second shots, as related to the number of seconds between the second and third shots? Perhaps doing it on the basis of a ratio?
Mr. CABELL - Well, I would put it this way. That approximately 10 seconds elapsed between the first and second shots, with not more than 5 seconds having elapsed until the third one.
Mr. HUBERT - Two to one ratio?
Mr. CABELL - Approximately that. And again I say that, as you mentioned, as a matter of being relative. I couldn't tell you the exact seconds because they were not counted.
Mr. HUBERT - Now when you became conscious that these were shots and that they seemed to be coming from the building known as the Texas School Book Depository Building, did you look toward that building?
Mr. CABELL - My back was turned to it at the time, because I was riding in the front seat and was conversing with Mrs. Cabell and Mr. Roberts.
Mr. HUBERT - Who were in the back? And you were next to the driver?
Mr. CABELL - I was sitting in the front seat with the driver. This was a convertible in which we were riding with the top down.
Mr. HUBERT - So that actually the shots seemed to you to come from behind?
Mr. CABELL - From behind.
Mr. HUBERT - Did you turn in the direction of the shots?
Mr. CABELL - I turned then, rather looking down toward the Presidential car, and then I saw the people scattering and some throwing themselves on the ground. One man threw himself over a child that was sitting in the grass there. I did not observe anything in connection with the building itself.
Mr. HUBERT - You did not see anybody in any of the windows?
Mr. CABELL - No.
Mr. HUBERT - Now I think you mentioned that Mrs. Cabell made a remark to you, "Oh, that is a shot." I take it from what you have said, that remark was made immediately after the first shot?
Mr. CABELL - Just immediately; yes.
Mr. HUBERT - And before the second and third, is that right?
Mr. CABELL - And really before I could get my answer out--I think it was motivated by wishful thinking as much as anything else, to deny or to say possibly it wasn't--then the second and third shots rang out.
Mr. HUBERT - Were there any other spontaneous remarks made by anyone else in the car?
Mr. CABELL - Well, in the discussion which followed, both Mr. Roberts and myself said that it must have been from a gun similar to a .30-06.
Mr. HUBERT - By spontaneous, I meant those remarks made just immediately, not the discussion thereafter, you see.
Mr. CABELL - I don't remember.

Posner - Cabell's timing is not consistent with Posner's theory, but he does place three shots coming from the Depository in a span of about 15 seconds.

Harris - Cabell's timing is better for Harris, but the 5 second gap between the second and third shot is quite a bit different than 1 and a half seconds. Cabell was almost directly in front of the Dal-Tex building and he was familiar with the sound of guns. It is hard to believe he would not have noticed that the second shot was fired from the Dal-Tex building, and not the Depository.

Mrs. Earl Cabell's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Mrs. Cabell was in the left rear seat of the car four cars behind the Presidential Limousine)

Mr. HUBERT - In other words, your car was still really on Houston?
Mrs. CABELL - No; we were making the turn.
Mr. HUBERT - Just on the turn?
Mrs. CABELL - Just on the turn, which put us at the top of the hill, you see.
Mr. HUBERT - Since you were actually turned toward Representative Roberts on your right?
Mrs. CABELL - Yes.
Mr. HUBERT - Actually, you were facing -
Mrs. CABELL - The building.
Mr. HUBERT - The Texas Depository Building?
Mrs. CABELL - I was actually facing it
Mr. HUBERT - What was the first thing you noticed of an extraordinary nature, or heard?
Mrs. CABELL - I heard the shot, and without having to turn my head, I jerked my head up.
Mr. HUBERT - Why did you do that?
Mrs. CABELL - Because I heard the direction from which the shot came, and I just jerked my head up.
Mr. HUBERT - What did you see?
Mrs. CABELL - I saw a projection out of one of those windows. Those windows on the sixth floor are in groups of twos.
Mr. HUBERT - In which window did you see the projection?
Mrs. CABELL - I have always been a little confused about that, but I think it was the first window.
Mr. HUBERT - On what floor?
Mrs. CABELL - On the top floor. Now I cannot take oath and say which window. There was some confusion in my mind.
Mr. HUBERT - But you say there were double windows. In the confusion about whether it was the first or second double window, or the first or second window of the double windows?
Mrs. CABELL - The first or second window of the first group of double windows.
Mr. HUBERT - What was the projection?
Mrs. CABELL - I cannot tell you. It was rather long looking, the projection.
Mr. HUBERT - What did it seem like? An arm of an individual, or something mechanical?
Mrs. CABELL - I did not know, because I did not see a hand or a head or a human form behind it. It was just a fleeting second that I jerked my head up and I saw something in the window, and I turned to say to Earl, "Earl, it is a shot", and before I got the words out, just as I got the words out, he said, "Oh, no; it must have been a -"the second two shots rang out. After that, there is a certain amount of confusion in my mind. I was acutely aware of the smell of gunpowder. I was aware that the motorcade stopped dead still. There was no question about that.
Mr. HUBERT - Let me ask you, after the first shot and your observation of this object in the window as you have described it, you turned your attention from that window?
Mrs. CABELL - That is right.
Mr. HUBERT - So that you were not looking in the direction of that window when the second and third shots were fired?
Mrs. CABELL - No.
Mr. HUBERT - Did you look in that direction thereafter?
Mrs. CABELL - If I did, I don't recall. I am completely aware of the people running up that hill. I saw a man throw a child on the ground and throw himself. I saw a woman in a bright green dress throw herself on the ground. I saw policeman running up the grassy slope.
Mr. HUBERT - You also mentioned that you were acutely aware of the smell of gunpowder?
Mrs. CABELL - Yes.
Mr. HUBERT - When was that relative to the shots? I mean how soon after?
Mrs. CABELL - I cannot say for sure, because as I told you the motorcade was stopped. And somewhere in there Congressman Roberts said, "That is a .30-06." I didn't know what a .30-06 was.
Mr. HUBERT - Did he say that after all the shots were fired?
Mrs. CABELL - I believe so. There was much confusion.
Mr. HUBERT - And it was about that time that you observed the odor?
Mrs. CABELL - Of gunpowder
Mr. HUBERT - That was when your car at least had come to a standstill?
Mrs. CABELL - Every car in the motorcade had come to a standstill.

Posner & Harris - Mrs. Cabell's testimony lacks enough detail to support one theory over the other.

Roger Craig's Warren Commission Testimony (back to the list of witnesses)

(Craig was on the north side of Main St. In front of the sheriff's office)

Mr. CRAIG - I believe he came by just before the President's. I believe there were some dignitaries and things before that, and then we watched the President and--uh--oh, and then about two or three cars after the President's car had passed. And then we were just standing there looking around you know.
Mr. BELIN - All right. Then what happened?
Mr. CRAIG - Then I heard an explosion.
Mr. BELIN - When you heard the explosion, what did you do?
Mr. CRAIG - Well, the first--nothing. I wrestled with my mind. I knew it was a shot but--uh--I didn't want to believe it. But, a few seconds later, I heard another explosion and, this time, I knew it was a shot. And, as I began to run, I heard a third one. I was running toward Houston Street.
Mr. BELIN - How many explosions did you hear altogether?
Mr. CRAIG - Three.
Mr. BELIN - About how far were these noises apart?
Mr. CRAIG - The first one was--uh--about three seconds--2 or 3 seconds.
Mr. BELIN - Two or 3 seconds between the first and the second?
Mr. CRAIG - Well, it was quite a pause between there. It could have been a little longer.
Mr. BELIN - And what about between the second and third?
Mr. CRAIG - Not more than 2 seconds. It was--they were real rapid.
Mr. BELIN - All right. then what did you do?
Mr. CRAIG - I continued running across Houston Street, across the parkway, across Elm Street and, by this time, the motorcade had went on down Elm Street and I ran up to the railroad yard and--uh---started to look around when the people began to all travel over that way. So, I began moving people back out of the railroad yard.
Mr. BELIN - Where did the noises or shots sound to you like they came from?
Mr. CRAIG - It was hard to tell because---uh---they had an echo, you know. There was actually two explosions with each one. There was the uh--the shot and then the echo from it. So, it was hard to tell.
Mr. BELIN - Did people tell you, as you ran over there, where they thought the shots came from?
Mr. CRAIG - No; as I reached the railroad yard, I talked to a girl getting her car that--uh--thought they came from the park area on the north side of Elm Street.
Mr. BELIN - Did she say why she thought they came from there?
Mr. CRAIG - No; she was standing there and it sounded real loud at that particular point--
Mr. BELIN - Uh-huh.
Mr. CRAIG - And she thought that's where they came from.

Posner & Harris - Craig's testimony lacks enough detail to support or contradict either theory, although it tends to favor Harris over Posner.

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