JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

JFK 50: Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

Oswald Arrested at Texas Theatre

By Frank Heinz
|  Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013  |  Updated 9:58 AM CDT
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Oswald Arrested at Texas Theatre

Sejohnso1/Flickr

Texas Theater, 1963.

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After the fatal shooting of J.D. Tippit at 10th Street and Patton Avenue, a man later identified as Lee Harvey Oswald was spotted by several witnesses running through Oak Cliff.

On East Jefferson Boulevard, Oswald ditched a windbreaker he'd been wearing since he left his rooming house on Beckley Avenue.  He continued west on East Jefferson, past Beckley Avenue and onto West Jefferson toward the Texas Theatre.

A witness to the Tippit murder had alerted police to the shooting and sirens could be heard throughout the neighborhood.

Calvin Brewer, who managed Hardy's Shoe store, heard the sirens and, from radio broadcasts, was aware of both the shooting of President Kennedy and officer Tippit.  Brewer told the Warren Commission that "'he looked up and saw the man enter the lobby,' a recessed area extending about 15 feet between the sidewalk and the front door of his store."  Brewer said that as the police sirens became more faint, the man, who he said was wearing only a T-shirt and no jacket, "looked over his shoulder and turned around and walked up West Jefferson towards the theater."

"He just looked funny to me," Brewer is quoted as saying in the Warren Report. "His hair was sort of messed up and looked like he had been running, and he looked scared, and he looked funny."

Julia Postal, who was selling tickets at the theater, saw a man duck inside without getting a ticket.  Brewer asked Postal if the man had paid for his ticket and she said he hadn't.  Postal called the police as Brewer followed the man into the theater.

A short time later, 15 police officers arrived at the theater and secured all exits while searching both the balcony and lower seating area.

"Patrolman M. N. McDonald, with Patrolmen R. Hawkins, T. A. Hutson, and C. T. Walker, entered the theatre from the rear. Other policemen entered the front door and searched the balcony. Detective Paul L. Bentley rushed to the balcony and told the projectionist to turn up the house lights. Brewer met McDonald and the other policemen at the alley exit door, stepped out onto the stage with them and pointed out the man who had come into the theatre without paying. The man was Oswald. He was sitting alone in the rear of the main floor of the theatre near the right center aisle. About six or seven people were seated on the theatre's main floor and an equal number in the balcony."

According to testimony in the Warren Report, Oswald stood up, bringing up both hands and, as officers began to search him, he struck McDonald between the eyes with his left fist. A scuffle took place as Dallas police officers struggled to gain control of both Oswald and his revolver. 

Oswald, sought at this time only for the murder of officer Tippit, was eventually subdued, arrested and taken to Dallas police headquarters.

After returning to police headquarters from the Texas School Book Depository, Capt. J.W. "Will" Fritz, with the Dallas Police Department, instructed a detective to get a search warrant and to arrest a man named Lee Oswald who lived on Fifth Street in Irving. According to testimony in the Warren Report, Sgt. Gerald Hill "asked why Oswald was wanted and Fritz replied, 'Well, he was employed down at the Book Depository and he had not been present for a roll call of the employees.' Hill said, 'Captain, we will save you a trip ... there he sits.'"

Oswald was later formally implicated in Tippit's murder due to forensic testing of a Smith & Wesson revolver found on him during his arrest at the theater. 

Source: Archives.gov - Oswald's Arrest

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