Robert H. Johnson
Robert H. "Bob" Johnson | Photo by Pat Vasquez-Cunningham, Albuquerque Journal

Foreword | With Malice | 1998 Edition
by Robert H. "Bob" Johnson
Associated Press, Chief of Bureau for Texas.

People who remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy also remember police officer J.D. Tippit, an obscure cop murdered that same day.
They still argue about who did it and why.

Dale Myers has the best answers I have seen to these questions:
    - Was Tippit a conspirator with Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination?

    - Did Tippit pull his patrol car up to Oswald's apartment house and honk a warning as Oswald was fleeing?

    - How did Oswald and Tippit happen to meet a short time later on a residential street in Dallas' Oak Cliff section?

    - Why did Tippit stop Oswald and approach him, only to be killed by four pistol shots?

    - Was the pistol a revolver or an automatic?

    - Did the two men know Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who fired a fatal shot into Oswald as he was being led from the Dallas city jail?

    - Was it really Oswald who shot Tippit?
Conspiracy buffs have had a high old time with those questions. Dale Myers is not one of them.

Myers has researched and analyzed those questions - and more - in minute detail. He has sought every conceivable source, interviewed witnesses, reporters, attorneys and policemen. He has studied Tippit's life from boyhood. He has reviewed television footage, printed news accounts, earlier books and police records. He has dug into the files and report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which reviewed the JFK case in 1978. He has pored over the Warren Commission report and Commission files - and has turned up some documents never before made public.

Where testimony and evidence conflict, he has used reason and worked out logical answers.

His account is a fascinating web of fact vs. fantasy, of the frantic confusion that began with the shots that killed the President on November 22, 1963.

Many people refused to believe that a loner had shot both the President and the policemen. Conspiracy theories bubbled to the surface. The theories expanded after Ruby shot Oswald. Some saw evidence in every rumor and stray report. Many reporters and editors pursued them and found them baseless. But dozens of books have kept the questions alive. They persist in a cult of theorists.

I was the Associated Press Chief of Bureau for Texas, in charge of covering the assassination and related events through the trial of Jack Ruby.

The day Kennedy and Tippit were killed, near chaos engulfed Dallas. Then, downtown Dallas became almost a ghost town. Football games and the opera were canceled. Stores were empty, streets deserted. Anger merged with despair. Only police, service workers and news people seemed to be abroad.

In the AP bureau and other news offices the pace was fast, intense and focused on what had happened. The day of Kennedy's funeral, AP news printers fell silent as his casket was lowered into the grave. A bugler cracked on a high note as he played Taps. AP staffers gathered around the television set to watch, their eyes filled with tears, allowing emotion to surface for the first time. Then determined pursuit of facts by wire service, newspaper, radio and TV reporters continued.

More than thirty years later, Myers has wrapped up the story. His answers make sense. They're supported by pillars of fact and analysis. They should stand.

Robert H. "Bob" Johnson, the Associated Press Chief of Bureau for Texas in 1963, wrote the AP's first bulletin on the assassination of President Kennedy.

Johnson was in the newsroom of the Dallas Times Herald, adjoining the AP office, when he heard editors talking about an unconfirmed report that President Kennedy had been shot.

Johnson ran back to his desk, slipped paper in his typewriter, and wrote "BULLETIN" and "DALLAS" and awaited word from his staffers covering Kennedy's visit to call. Wirephoto operator James "Ike" Altgens, who doubled as a photographer, alerted Johnson that he was just 30 feet away from Kennedy when the first shot was fired.

After confirming the facts with Altgens, Johnson turned to his typewriter and wrote the bulletin: "President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy. She cried, 'Oh, no!' The motorcade sped on."

Johnson died of a stroke in 2007 at the age of 84.

Compiled from: "Former AP executive Johnson dies at 84" | USA Today | August 26, 2007