San Antonio radio reporter Gary DeLaune witnessed Oswald killing

Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy in 1963

Gary DeLaune had just started his broadcasting career at KLIF radio in Dallas. Hired to broadcast high school football games and the news, he would find himself in the middle of the biggest story of his career just three months after getting married on Nov. 23, 1963.

It was a Friday afternoon and DeLaune said he was in the middle of his shift at the station when the hotline rang.

"The guy says, 'What do you know about shots being fired at the motorcade with Kennedy and Connally being hit?'" DeLaune recalled. "I said, 'I don't know, but I will check.'"

DeLaune, who had just turned 30, called a source at the Dallas Police Department and the source confirmed it.

"I told the guy, 'Go! Go! Go! Bulletin!'" he said.

At 12:36:55 p.m. -- DeLaune said he remembers the time exactly -- he broke into programming and he became the first to broadcast the news that the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and the Governor of Texas, John Connally, had been shot while riding in their motorcade through downtown Dallas.

Fifty years later, he said he even remembers the song he interrupted at the time -- "I Have a Boyfriend" by the Chiffons.

It wasn't long before the nation learned that President Kennedy had died as a result of the wounds he had received that afternoon.

DeLaune said his duties immediately changed.

He was sent to the Dallas Police Department and it was a source in the homicide department that tipped him to the fact that the suspected assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald.

"We broke it on KLIF. (United Press International) picked it up from us worldwide," DeLaune, who is now 80 years old, recounted recently from his living room at his home in San Antonio. DeLaune still broadcasts high school football games in San Antonio.

De Laune interview pic

The description of Oswald being broadcast by DeLaune and his colleagues at KLIF would help lead to his capture, but only Oswald killed another person: a Dallas police officer.

DeLaune would soon find himself in the middle of the murder of Kennedy's assassin two days later at the hands of Jacob Leon Rubenstein, better known as Jack Ruby.

"(Jack Ruby) was a groupie," DeLaune said. "He was a nuisance and said, 'What can I do?'"

DeLaune said Ruby brought sandwiches to the Dallas police department, where he had been reporting all day. That's when Ruby would get his first glimpse of Lee Harvey Oswald as, according to DeLaune, he was being interviewed by detectives and denying he had shot the president.

"He gets it in his own little mind that he's going to avenge Jackie Kennedy," DeLaune said.

On Sunday, the Dallas Police Department had been asked to transfer Kennedy's assassin at a more reasonable hour -- not at 3:30 a.m., which was the original plan -- to show the world Dallas was able to handle it.

Originally, DeLaune was told not to go down for what would be a routine event, since he had been broadcasting all day Friday and Saturday, but he said he wouldn't hear of that.

"I woke up early. I had just been married for three months. My wife asked me, 'Where are you going?' I said, 'I've got to go down there. I've got a feeling. I've been on it from the start.'"

DeLaune's feeling proved to be correct and, as result, put him six feet from Oswald's killer.

The plan as DeLaune remembers was to use an armored car as a decoy and place Oswald in a nearby car for his transfer. But as the armored car was being backed into the Dallas Police Department basement, Ruby used it as a shield to get among the reporters broadcasting the event.

DeLaune's exact words that day as Oswald was shot dead were recorded for his radio broadcast.

"Here he comes. Lee Oswald, the accused assassin. Captain Will France leading the way. Being escorted by police officers and detectives. The Sheriff. (sound of a shot and then moaning). A shot rang out! A shot has rung out! Lee Oswald falls. Lee Oswald has fallen and ladies and gentlemen, Lee Oswald. Lee Oswald has just been shot."

"That's when chaos broke out," DeLaune said. "I was knocked back over a rail. Bob Jackson got his Pulitzer Prize-winning picture," DeLaune said. "It was one of those unbelievable things. Everybody drew their pistols because they didn't know what it was. They pulled Ruby back and jumped on him. They put Oswald back in the room until the ambulance got there."

DeLaune says of the people that were in the basement that day only seven -- that he knows of -- are left.

"The scariness of being in the basement and not knowing what it was. You know, I didn't know it was Jack Ruby at the time. And they asked Jack why he did it as they took him up to the fifth-floor holding cell, he said, 'I wanted to kill the S.O.B. to avenge Jackie Kennedy.'"

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About the Author:

Greg Simmons is the sports director and a sports anchor for KSAT 12.