JFK Assassination: The Facts and Theories
The motorcade was running a few minutes late.
As he was prone to do, Kennedy had twice ordered his limo to stop—once when he saw a man holding a sign inviting the president to shake his hand, and a second time to greet a Catholic nun and a group of schoolchildren.
The dense crowds downtown had also slowed the pace of the motorcade.
The president's car was crawling at 11 mph past the Texas School Book Depository at precisely 12:30 p.m., the hour the president was due at the Trade Mart.
Rifle shots rang out.
One slug passed through the president's neck, according to the Warren Commission. A second, subsequent, lethal bullet shattered the right side of his skull. Connally was wounded in his back, the right side of his chest, right wrist and left thigh.
Secret Service agents rushed to the limousine.
Jackie Kennedy cried out, "Oh, my God, they have shot my husband. I love you, Jack."
Agent Kellerman, in the president's car, radioed ahead to Police Chief Curry, who led a high-speed dash to Parkland Hospital, 4 miles away.
There was no saving the president, of course. He was declared dead 30 minutes after the shooting. An emergency operation was conducted on Connally; he would survive.
By 2:15 p.m., Kennedy's body was in a casket and loaded on Air Force One for the return flight to Washington.
But the takeoff was delayed while aides arranged an urgent ceremony to ensure continuity of government.
Federal Judge Sarah Hughes, appointed by Kennedy in 1961 as the first female U.S. District Court judge in Texas, hurried to Love Field.
At 2:38 p.m., just before the jet departed for Washington, Hughes swore in Lyndon Johnson as the 36th President. He was flanked by his wife and Mrs. Kennedy during the brief, solemn ceremony.
Judge Hughes later said, "I thought she (Jackie Kennedy) showed remarkable poise. She didn't weep. She didn't say a word. Her poise was outstanding. Her courage was outstanding."