The Umbrella Man
Two of the most suspicious people at Dealey Plaza were two men standing near
Kennedy when the fatal shots were fired. One held an open umbrella while the
other stood at the curb and waved his arm into the air. These and their
subsequent actions are only known from analysis of photos and films taken that
day and aroused suspicions of researchers. Both the Dallas Police and the Warren
Commission ignored these two men throughout their investigations.
The Umbrella Man (right) and the Dark-Complected Man
The Zapruder film clearly shows an opened umbrella as the motorcade passed the
Stemmons Freeway sign on Elm Street (see photo 2). In Photos taken minutes
before and after
the assassination, the umbrella can be seen closed. Furthermore, when Kennedy's
limousine was passing the sign, "Umbrella man" pumped his umbrella almost two
feet into the air and then lowered it again. At the same time, the other man
raised his arm and possibly made a fist. Because this one seemed to be
dark-complected, perhaps black or Hispanic, he was called the "dark-complected
man". The man with the open umbrella was the only person in Dealey Plaza with an
open umbrella. There was no reason for such a behaviour since the warm Texas sun
was shining at that time.
Two main theories have been come up concerning the Umbrella man. The first says
that both men provided signals for the hidden gunmen. Certainly, this presumes
that Kennedy was killed by a coordinated crossfire, perhaps with the help of
radiomen. The two men were among the closest bystanders when Kennedy was struck.
They possibly gave signals that JFK was not fatally hit and more shots were
needed. Gary Shaw provided an interesting twist in this theory. He said that the
umbrella was a last-second sign of who was responsible for the assassination.
Shaw explained that throughout the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA
promised an "umbrella" air protection of the invaders. Kennedy refused to
authorize this military support. Therefore, the man with the open umbrella
symbolized the promise of an air-support "umbrella" while the dark-complected
man may have been a person --- perhaps an anti-Castro Cuban leader --- that
Kennedy was familiar with.
Most of the assassination researchers prefer this first theory. But there is
another one that cannot be dismissed. Researcher Robert Cutler claimed that the
umbrella may have been a dart-firing weapon. This is supported by the testimony
of a CIA weapons developer in 1975 (1). He told the Senate's Intelligence
Committee that such an umbrella was in use in 1963. He described the weapon as
looking like an umbrella. He explained the dart gun was silently operating and
fired through the webbing when the umbrella was opened. He also said that the
CIA ordered about 50 of such guns and that they were operational in 1963.
Furthermore, Cutler theorized that Kennedy's throat wound could have been a
wound caused by such a dart, but that it was altered during the Bethesda
autopsy. This would also explain Kennedy's lack of motion during the shooting
sequence. Many researchers think that since such a weapon existed and its
operation is consistent with the actions of Umbrella man, this theory can not be
Zapruder film frame showing the umbrella
None of these theories is approved or confirmed. But the actions of Umbrella and
Dark-complected man are. While almost everyone in Dealey Plaza was reacting to
the assassination by either falling to the ground or moving towards Grassy
Knoll, both men sat down on the sidewalk of Elm Street. In this situation,
several photographs indicate that the dark-complected man talked into a radio.
Jim Towner made a photograph where an antenna - or better an antenna-like device
- can be seen jutting out from behind the man's head and his hands holding an
object to his face. Just moments later, they both got up and walked away - each
in another direction: Dark-complected man went toward the Triple Underpass while
Umbrella man was walking towards the Schoolbook Depository.
Officially, both persons did not exist. Neither FBI nor Warren Commission made
any effort to locate them. Researchers claimed that the lack of investigation of
these men indicate the poor quality of the government's care of the
assassination. When the House Select Committee on Assassinations was formed,
researchers demanded an investigation of both men. Finally, the Committee
released a photograph of Umbrella Man and asked anyone to come forward with any
information about him.
"Coincidently", the Umbrella Man was suddenly identified in Dallas just shortly
after this national appeal. An anonymous caller told researcher Penn Jones Jr.
that the wanted man was the former Dallas insurance salesman Louis Steven Witt.
Jones contacted some local newsmen and together they confronted Witt. Although
Witt refused to talk to a newsman, he confirmed that he was in Dealey Plaza
when Kennedy was killed. Jones later wrote (2):
I felt the man had been coached. He would answer no questions and pointedly
invited us to leave. His only positive statement, which seemed to come very
quickly, was that he was willing to appear before the House Select Committee on
Assassinations in Washington.
Witt told the Commission that he had the umbrella to heckle Kennedy. He claimed
that someone told him that an open umbrella would rile Kennedy. But he did not
offer any further explanation of how it would heckle JFK. Some Committee members
theorized that the umbrella somehow referred to Kennedy's father who was serving
as U.S. ambassador to Britain prior to World War II. The umbrella may have
symbolized the policies of Britain's Prime Minister Chamberlain who always
carried an umbrella. (3)
I think I went sort of maybe halfway up the grassy area (on the north side of
Elm Street), somewhere in that vicinity. I am pretty sure I sat down....(When
the motorcade approached) I think I got up and started fiddling with that
umbrella trying to get it open, and at the same time I was walking forward,
walking toward the street....Whereas other people I understand saw the President
shot and his movements; I did not see this because of this thing (the umbrella)
in front of me....My view of the car during that length of time was blocked by
the umbrella's being open. (4)
None of Witt s statements were accurate. Umbrella man stood waiting for the
motorcade with his umbrella in the usual position over his head. Then he pumped
it up in the air as Kennedy passed. Despite Witt's bizarre story - totally
incompatible with the actions of the man in the photographs - a few researchers
accepted Louis Steven Witt as the "Umbrella Man".
The HSCA made no effort to find the second man, the Dark-complected man, who
appeared to have been talking on a radio moments after the assassination. Witt
claimed he had no recollection of such a person, although on photographs he can
be seen talking to him. He only recalled a "Negro man" who sat down near him and
They done shot them folks.
One of the Committee's attorneys asked Witt specifically if he remembers seeing the
man with a walkie-talkie. This is interesting because no one has ever admitted
the possibility of radios in use in Dealey Plaza. Both men still remain in
mystery among the people of Dealey Plaza.
(1) Jim Marrs: Crossfire - The Plot That Killed Kennedy. p. 30.
(2) Jim Marrs: Crossfire - The Plot That Killed Kennedy. p. 32.
(3) Robert J. Groden - The Killing Of A President.
(4) HSCA Vol. IV, p. 432f.
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