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Reporter Blames JFK Chaos On “Wannabes”

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - On the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, 50 years ago in Dallas, Hugh Aynesworth was a 32-year-old reporter for the Dallas Morning News. He was not scheduled to cover the presidential parade that day, but he went as a spectator.

Aynesworth ended up being the only person to witness the assassination of the President, the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, and Oswald being murdered by Jack Ruby.

As the presidential motorcade made a sharp turn from Houston Street onto Elm Street, Aynesworth was right there. And he remembers everything. “When I heard the shots,” he recalled, “people didn’t know who they were shooting or where they were shooting from, how many were shooting — complete panic.”

“Children down here and up there. People were crying. People were screaming. There was a woman reguritating behind me. It was just total chaos,” Aynesworth continued.

He was already a witness to history but, in a matter of days, Aynesworth would also be there for the arrest and murder of Oswald.

Aynesworth actually knew Ruby. “I couldn’t stand him,” he said. “He was obnoxious. He was a braggart and he was in the newsroom far too often. You’d see him a couple of times a week and you’d say ‘oh, here comes Ruby’ and go the other way or something.”

Despite the fact that Aynesworth would go on to earn four Pulitzer Prize nominations and break other stories of historical significance, he said, “Everywhere that I had to work, I had to run down every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard of. I’ve had five people confess to me — they did it. Had one say to me that his father did it. He was a cop. It’s just weird. People just want to be a part of something — of course, that was Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald, too. They were wannabes, but they didn’t know how to get to be somebody.”

And, Aynesworth said, that is all there was to it — no conspiracy. The assassination, and everything around it, was just a few wannabes who created a dark legacy.

Aynesworth talks more about the fateful day in his new book, “November 22, 1963: Witness to History.”

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