Gerald “Jerry” O’Rourke
Subject: Ex-Agent Refuses to Toe Party Line on JFK Slaying
Ex-agent refuses to toe party line on JFK slaying
By Ellen Miller, Special To The News
November 20, 2003
GRAND JUNCTION - Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone when he killed
President John F. Kennedy, a retired agent said Wednesday, and the
president died because Secret Service agents failed at their jobs.
"Officially, the answer to Oswald when somebody asks - because we
were ordered to say it - is that the Warren Commission found that he
acted alone," retired agent Jerry O'Rourke said. "But was there more
than one gunman? Yes, personally I believe so. And my personal
opinion about Jack Ruby is that he was paid to kill Oswald."
O'Rourke grew up in Telluride and attended Western State and Regis
colleges, then spent 22 years in the Secret Service. Now retired and
back home, he spoke Wednesday to the downtown Grand Junction Rotary
O'Rourke said his group of agents, about 10 of them, had protected
Kennedy the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, at a breakfast speech in Fort
Worth. Then the group left by air for Austin, the next stop planned
for the president's Texas tour.
"We got the word (of the assassination) in the air, and we didn't
believe it at first," he said. "We were joking. But later, most of
the agents had tears in their eyes. Agents believed in Kennedy, and
we knew we failed our job in Dallas."
After his White House tour ended during Johnson's presidency,
O'Rourke spent a year in the Secret Service intelligence division,
which offered him glimpses into the investigation of Kennedy's death.
Those glimpses, and the accounts of other agents, have convinced
O'Rourke that Oswald didn't act alone. He cited several reasons:
. Kennedy had a number of enemies, any of whom could have plotted
against him. They included Southerners angered by his insistence on
civil rights; organized crime; labor unions unhappy with
investigations of them by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; Cuban
dissidents angry over the failed Bay of Pigs invasion; and FBI
Director J. Edgar Hoover.
. The shots were impossible to make. O'Rourke learned to shoot as a
boy and trained as a marksman in the military. He said his visits to
Oswald's perch at the Texas Book Depository convince him that no one
could have fired a rifle three times so quickly, hitting the
president and Texas Gov. John Connolly.
. The trajectory of one of the shots could not have been made from a
gunman on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository. The shot
entered Kennedy's body at his lower back and traveled up, to exit
near his throat.
. The circumstances of the autopsy were irregular. Texas law requires
autopsies to be done in state, but agents, acting on the orders of
White House, took Kennedy's body back to Washington, D.C. The autopsy
was performed at Bethesda Naval Medical Center under secrecy that
prevails to this day.
. Evidence was destroyed. O'Rourke said that on the day of the
assassination, one agent was ordered to clean out the cars used in
the motorcade, getting rid of blood and other evidence. The agent
told O'Rourke that he found a piece of skull, asked the White House
doctor what to do with it, and was told to destroy it.
. Instructions were given to lie. The agent in charge of motorcade
protection told O'Rourke that he was told by the Warren Commission
during his testimony that he did not hear a fourth shot and he did
not see someone running across the grassy knoll. But the agent
insisted that his account was accurate.
. Evidence about the shots is in conflict. An open microphone on a
motorcycle in the motorcade picked up four shots, not three.
"In my opinion, Hoover wanted the commission to find that Oswald
acted alone," O'Rourke said. "The complete file won't be released
until 2027, and the reason for that is most of us will be dead by