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‘Radio Free’ Montone: The Accidental Assassin

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By John Montone, 1010 WINS

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Nov. 24th, 1963. The basement of the Dallas city jail. Enter Lee Harvey Oswald. Enter Jack Ruby. Exit common sense.

While reading Vincent Bugliosi’s minute-by-minute account of the assassination of President Kennedy and its aftermath, “Four Days in Dallas,” I came upon a familiar name, attached to a vaguely familiar face. We all change in fifty years. Mickey Carroll. Identified as a reporter for the Herald Tribune. And there he was standing against a wall in the basement garage, looking on as Jack Ruby lurched forward toward the suspect.

Yes, the same Mickey…er, Maurice Carroll, who can be heard on 1010 WINS interpreting the latest numbers from the Quinnipiac Poll. So I knew I had to chat with Carroll about that moment that deprived the country of a trial which could have settled the question of, “Who Killed Kennedy?” in very short order.

Sure enough Carroll told me, “All of the nonsensical conspiracy theories were born in that instant.”

Just a little background here: Carroll’s editor dispatched him to Dallas even as many network and major newspaper reporters were flying back to Washington for the somber weekend. And what a different world it was. Among the places he visited while on assignment was the assassin’s bedroom. Just walked in and poked around — nobody stopped him. And at police headquarters, Carroll and other members of the press got to shout questions at Oswald as police walked him up and down a hallway in between interrogations.

Carroll believes the Dallas Police did this to show the world they weren’t beating him up. On that Sunday morning as police got ready to transfer Oswald to the more secure Dallas County jail, Carroll, and New York radio reporter Ike Pappas, decided to run down three flights of stairs to the garage rather than trust the building’s slow-moving elevator. This allowed Pappas to establish his position and to get so close to Oswald that he was able to ask, “Lee, did you…..”

But then Carroll told me, there was a “pop” from Ruby’s gun and a “groan” from the mortally wounded suspect. And from that moment on all of the good police work done in Dallas was forgotten as the majority of Americans chose to believe in one evil wide-ranging conspiracy or another.

It was the mafia, right-wing anti-civil rights zealots, pro-Castro commies, rogue elements within the U.S. intelligence community or some combination of them all, perhaps with the tacit approval of LBJ. Here’s how Mickey Carroll, who looked on from a few feet away as Oswald collapsed to the floor and Ruby disappeared under a scrum of Dallas detectives, puts it in historical perspective: “The President’s assassin was silenced … in police headquarters.”

So he understood why people might be suspicious. But Carroll told me Ruby just happened to be nearby at a Western Union office when he saw a crowd near the police building and he decided to walk over and see what was going on. As a local guy who was friends with some cops, he knew his way around and just kept walking into the basement where opportunity presented itself.

And believing he would be hailed as a hero, pulled out his gun. That’s it!, claim the conspiracy believers. Once the suspect was arrested, he had to be eliminated by a fellow plotter. But Carroll said Oswald and Ruby weren’t conspirators. He said Oswald was, “a buck and a quarter warehouse clerk and a nut, pursuing his demons,” while Ruby was, “…a dummy, an impulsive dummy…” who if he wasn’t carrying a gun might have punched Oswald.

Carroll has put his story in print in a book called, “The Accidental Assassin,” about a “nut” and a “dummy” who changed the course of American history.

John Montone 1010 WINS News.