Many conspiracy theorists unhappy with the official account of the assassination of John F. Kennedy have pointed to evidence they believe shows that the president was shot twice, from different directions.
Now a new documentary has come up with a new twist on the conspiracy theory, claiming that a Secret Service agent was the man who fired that shot… by accident.
JFK: The Smoking Gun claims that George Hickey, a Secret Service man riding in the car behind Kennedy, accidentally fired his weapon on November 22, 1963.
It alleges that a cover-up was then carried out to save the blushes of the agency whose main role is to protect serving and former U.S. leaders – leaving the many loose ends that have long raised suspicions.
It is said that as much as 75 per cent of the American public do not believe the official account of the Kennedy assassination.
The new documentary is based on the work of Colin McLaren, a veteran Australian police detective who has undertaken a four-year investigation into the killing.
His theories are based on the work of Howard Donahue, who spent two decades probing the assassination and whose work was presented in the book Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK, by Bonar Menninger.
Both Mr Menninger and Mr McLared spoke yesterday about the film at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles, California.
Central to their case is the claim that Agent Hickey and his Secret Service colleagues had been out partying the night before Kennedy’s motorcade drove through Dallas.
To compound the problems the hungover agent faced, McLaren says he has found evidence that Hickey had not been properly trained to use the AR-15 gun he was carrying that morning. ‘It was his first time in the follow car, his first time holding the assault weapon he was using,’ the Huffington Post reported McLaren as saying.
The theory is that as the assassin opened fire, Hickey grabbed his own gun. But when the whole motorcade shunted to a halt, the agent was jolted by the sudden stop and accidentally pulled the trigger – firing a bullet straight at the back of Kennedy’s head.
Mr McLaren said he believes Agent Hickey’s AR-15 was loaded with different from the ammunition used by Lee Harvey Oswald, who the Warren Commission declared in 1964 to be the lone gunman in the assassination. That, he claims, explains what they believe are the different ballistic profiles of the two bullets that struck Kennedy.
Oswald was himself assassinated before he could stand trial over the killing.
Mr Menninger insisted that they do not believe that Agent Hickey intentionally fired at Kennedy. Rather, the Huffington Post reported him as saying, ‘this was a tragic accident in the heat of the moment.’
But the pair do allege that the government moved swiftly, with the help of Kennedy’s brother Robert, to cover up the Secret Service’s involvement and save the agency from embarrassment.
Agent Hickey, who died two years ago, said in his witness statement given the day after Kennedy’s assassination that after he heard the gunfire he did indeed rise to his feet and load and cock the AR-15, but did not fire it.
He said: ‘At the end of the last report I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR 15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the rear.
‘At this point the cars were passing under the over-pass and as a result we had left the scene of the shooting. I kept the AR 15 rifle ready as we proceeded at a high rate of speed to the hospital.’
Mr Menninger’s book, which was published in 1992, claims that it was a shot from Agent Hickey’s gun that actually killed the president, citing evidence which appeared to show that Kennedy was hit by two different kinds of bullet.
AR-15 rounds are encased in thin copper and tend to break up upon impact, as did the shot that struck Kennedy in the head. A 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano bullet of the kind known to have been fired by Oswald, on the other hand, would not break up when it hit the target.
Agent Hickey sued Mr Menninger in 1995 over the allegations contained in Moral Error, but the case was dismissed after a judge ruled that he had taken too long after the book’s publication to file his case.
Rufus W. Youngblood, the agent in charge of the Secret Service detail protecting Vice President Lyndon Johnson on the day, also denied suggestions that Agent Hickey fired his weapon.
In an interview with the Georgia Tech alumni magazine in 1992, just prior to Mortal Error’s publication, he labelled the theory ‘ridiculous’.
‘I don’t think any Secret Service guy fired his weapon down there that day. I could look ahead and see [George] Hickey, an agent in the president’s follow-up car, who had the AR-15 [rifle]. He stood up and looked, but didn’t see anything to fire at,’ he said.
JFK: The Smoking Gun will be broadcast on the Reelz Channel on November 3. A spokesman for the network said: What makes McLaren’s investigation different than those that came before it is the fact that he had all the evidence, facts and eyewitness testimony from fifty years ago as well as modern forensic technology.
‘McLaren’s findings are a far cry from the fanciful conspiracy theories that usually surround this assassination.
‘His case is methodically constructed from simple logic and available evidence using time-tested investigative techniques to solve the crime; including key archival photographic evidence, medical reports and bullet science.’
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