According to the Warren Commission, Ruby was in the second-floor advertising offices of the Dallas Morning News, five blocks away from the Texas School Book Depository, placing weekly advertisements for his nightclubs when he learned of the assassination around 12:45 p.m. Ruby then made phone calls to his assistant at the Carousel Club and to his sister. The Commission stated that an employee of the Dallas Morning News estimated the fact that Ruby left the newspaper’s offices at 1:30 p.m., but indicated that other testimony suggested he may have left earlier.
White House correspondent Seth Kantor — who was a passenger in the motorcade — testified that after President Kennedy was shot, he had visited Parkland Hospital while the wounded President was receiving care. Kantor said that as he entered the hospital, at about 1:30 pm, he felt a tug on his coat. He turned around to see Jack Ruby who called him by his first name and shook his hand; he said that he had become acquainted with Ruby while he was a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald newspaper. According to Kantor, Ruby asked him if he thought that it would be a good idea for him to close his nightclubs for the next three nights because of the tragedy and Kantor responded with thinking that doing so would be a good idea.
The Warren Commission dismissed Kantor’s testimony, saying that the encounter at Parkland Hospital would have had to take place in a span of a few minutes before and after 1:30 pm, as evidenced by telephone company records of calls made by both people then. The Commission also pointed to contradictory witness testimony and to the lack of video confirmation of Ruby at the scene. The Commission concluded that “Kantor probably did not see Ruby at Parkland Hospital” and “may have been mistaken about both the time and the place that he saw Ruby.”
In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations reexamined Kantor’s testimony and stated, “While the Warren Commission concluded that Kantor was mistaken [about his Parkland encounter with Ruby], the Committee determined he probably was not.”
According to the Warren Commission, Ruby arrived back at the Carousel Club shortly before 1:45 pm to notify employees that the club would be closed that evening.
Ruby was seen in the halls of the Dallas Police Headquarters on several occasions after Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrest on November 22, 1963; newsreel footage from WFAA-TV (Dallas) and NBC shows that Ruby impersonated a newspaper reporter during a press conference at Dallas Police Headquarters on the night of Kennedy’s death. District Attorney Henry Wade briefed reporters at the press conference telling them that Lee Oswald was a member of the anti-Castro Free Cuba Committee. Ruby was one of several people there who spoke up to correct Wade, saying, “Henry, that’s the Fair Play for Cuba Committee,” a pro-Castro organization. Ruby told the FBI, a month after his arrest for killing Oswald, that he had his loaded snub-nosed Colt Cobra .38 revolver in his right pocket during the press conference.
November 24: The killing of Oswald
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Ruby about to shoot Oswald who is being escorted by Dallas police detectives Jim Leavelle and L. C. Graves.
Later in the day, after driving into town with his two pet dogs and sending an emergency money order to one of his employees, Ruby walked to the nearby police headquarters, where he made his way to the basement via either the Main Street ramp or a stairway accessible from an alleyway next to the Dallas Municipal Building. At 11:21 am CST — while authorities were escorting Oswald through the police basement to an armored car that was to take him to the nearby county jail — Ruby stepped out from a crowd of reporters and fired his .38 revolver into Oswald’s abdomen, fatally wounding him. Ruby was immediately subdued by agents and police as he reportedly yelled “You killed the president, you rat!” The shooting was broadcast live nationally, and millions of television viewers witnessed it. Author Norman Mailer, and others, have questioned why Ruby would have left his two beloved dogs in his car if he had planned on killing Oswald at police headquarters.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations in its 1979 Final Report opined:
…Ruby’s shooting of Oswald was not a spontaneous act, in that it involved at least some premeditation. Similarly, the committee believed it was less likely that Ruby entered the police basement without assistance, even though the assistance may have been provided with no knowledge of Ruby’s intentions… The committee was troubled by the apparently unlocked doors along the stairway route and the removal of security guards from the area of the garage nearest the stairway shortly before the shooting… There is also evidence that the Dallas Police Department withheld relevant information from the Warren Commission concerning Ruby’s entry to the scene of the Oswald transfer.
When Ruby was arrested immediately after the shooting, he told several witnesses that he had helped the city of Dallas “redeem” itself in the eyes of the public, and that Oswald’s death would spare “…Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial.” At the time of the shooting, Ruby said he was taking phenmetrazine, a central nervous system stimulant.
Ruby’s explanation for killing Oswald would be “exposed … as a fabricated legal ploy”, according to the House Select Committee on Assassinations. In a private note to one of his attorneys, Joseph Tonahill, Ruby wrote: “Joe, you should know this. My first lawyer Tom Howard told me to say that I shot Oswald so that Caroline and Mrs. Kennedy wouldn’t have to come to Dallas to testify. OK?”
Another motive was put forth by Frank Sheeran, allegedly a hitman for the Mafia, in a conversation he had with the then-former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. During the conversation, Hoffa claimed that Ruby was assigned the task of coordinating police officers who were loyal to Ruby to kill Oswald while he was in their custody. As Ruby evidently mismanaged the operation, he was given a choice to either finish the job himself or forfeit his life.
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