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Abilene man discovered the rifle that killed Kennedy

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:16:25 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 22 2013 02:01:30 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

In the minutes that followed the assassination of John F. Kennedy, an Abilene man found something that helped pin the murder on Lee Harvey Oswald.  Gene Boone was an eyewitness to history.

On November 22, 1963, the 26-year-old Boone was working as a deputy with the  Dallas County sheriffs department.  "I'd been on the job about a year and a half, " said Boone.

The presidents motorcade route takes him past the Dallas Co. sheriffs department.   Boone is among the crowd on the street watching the presidents limousine pass.  He was in plain clothes but on duty.

As Kennedy's car turns onto Elm Street shots are heard.   It's 12:30 pm. Boone remembers, "there were three shots.  There was 1 shot it went bang.  There was a little space between the first and second shot and then it was like bang...bang,bang!"

The car carrying the mortally wounded president speeds away to Parkland Hospital.

Officers from several law enforcement agencies begin searching the Texas School Book Depository looking for a shooter.  "We just started in and different officers broke off for different floors.  I just happened to be one of the officers that went to the sixth floor," said Boone.

"I was focused on the area in and around the staircase.  As I came across the building  I looked down and there was a rifle in a crevasse between 2 rows of books," said Boone.  He never handles Oswald's rifle.

Boone alerts others who photographed it, then take it away to be checked for finger prints.  It was 1:22 pm.  Just 52 minutes from the time the shots were fired that killed the president.

Dallas police arrest their prime suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, a short time later in the Texas Theater.

In the months following, Gene Boone would tell his story to the Secret Service, the FBI, and testifies before the Warren Commission.  " I really didn't talk about it too much and it was a number of years before I talked about it much in public at all," Boone says.

Through the years he's been asked many times about a possible conspiracy to kill Kennedy.  "I think the Warren Commission was correct in it's assumption that there was a lone shooter and that was Oswald.  I think if there was a conspiracy it was to get him in the right place at the right time to do the assassination." 

Boone has spent the last forty years in criminal justice and residential child care.  He's now the executive director of the Texas Family Institute in Abilene.