The decade's most triggering comedy
A former secret service agent — who was just feet away when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated almost 60 years ago — recently broke his silence surrounding the “magic bullet” theory, raising questions of a possible second shooter if not even more than one.
Paul Landis, a young federal agent at the time, told The New York Times he had been assigned to protect first lady Jackie Kennedy as the president’s motorcade strolled through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas, on that tragic day in November 1963.
Landis recalled dodging Kennedy’s flesh and brain matter after the final gunshot of three bullets fatally pierced through the back of Kennedy, exited out of his throat, and then hit the shoulder and wounded the back, chest, wrist, and thigh of then-Texas governor John Connally Jr.
Landis said he found the 6.5-millimeter bullet fired from a C2766 Mannlicher-Carcano rifle lodged in the back seat of the president’s limousine, where Kennedy had been sitting at the time of his death, and placed it on the president’s hospital stretcher for investigators. But that timeline of events differs from what U.S. investigators officially reported in the Warren Commission Report.
“There was nobody there to secure the scene, and that was a big, big bother to me,” Landis told The Times. “All the agents that were there were focused on the president.”
“This was all going on so quickly,” he added. “And I was just afraid that — it was a piece of evidence, that I realized right away. Very important. And I didn’t want it to disappear or get lost. So it was, ‘Paul, you’ve got to make a decision,’ and I grabbed it.’”
According to the commission report, authorities concluded that the bullet shot by former Marine and onetime defector to the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald, was found on Gov. Connally’s stretcher after it fell from his thigh.
Landis, whom the Warren Commission never interviewed, said that the bullet possibly moved from the president’s stretcher to the governor’s while they were side-by-side, although the report ruled out the possibility that the bullet came from Kennedy’s stretcher.
He said he also believes the bullet popped out of Kennedy’s body before authorities removed the president from the vehicle.
Nearly six decades after the Kennedy assassination, Landis had believed that Oswald was the only gunman on the scene. But now Landis said he’s “beginning to doubt” himself.
“Now I begin to wonder,” he added.
Landis’ account reportedly will be included in a forthcoming memoir, “The Final Witness,” which the Chicago Review Press is scheduled to release on October 10.
James Robenalt, a Cleveland lawyer and published author, told The Times that “if the bullet we know as the magic or pristine bullet stopped in President Kennedy’s back, it means that the central thesis of the Warren Report, the single-bullet theory, is wrong.”
Robenalt, who helped Landis recall his memories of Kennedy’s assassination, said if such accounts prove accurate, it could likely reopen the question that Oswald did not act alone. He further argued that if a separate bullet hit Gov. Connally, it’s questionable whether Oswald fired it because he could not have reloaded his gun that fast.
Earlier this year, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — JFK’s nephew — blamed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the assassination and cover-up of his uncle. The CIA denies the claim made by RFK Jr. on its website, calling the theory a “lie.”
But in response to Landis’ account in the New York Times report, RFK Jr. said in an X-post that “the magic bullet theory is now dead.”
“This preposterous construction has served as the mainstay of the theory that a single shooter murdered President Kennedy since the Warren Commission advanced it 60 years ago under the direction of the former CIA Director Allen Dulles whom my uncle fired,” RFK Jr. wrote. “The recent revelations by JFK’s Secret Service protector Paul Landis have prompted even the New York Times-among the last lonely defenders of the Warren Report-to finally acknowledge its absurdity.”