Marrion L. Baker
Solo Motorcycle Officer
Dallas Police Department
“What attracted my attention was this huge bunch of pigeons that flew off; fifty to a hundred of them were flying off the top of this building. I just knew that it had to be close to them or they wouldn't be disturbed like that…”
Patrolman Baker was born in the small town of Blum located in Hill County, Texas. After moving to Dallas in 1940, Baker later graduated from W.H. Adamson High School, located in Oak Cliff only a few blocks from where Officer J.D. Tippit allegedly was slain by Oswald. Baker worked at a variety of jobs after high school, then joined the Dallas Police Department in 1954. After nearly two years in radio patrol, he joined the Solo Motorcycle Division and had ridden motorcycles for seven years prior to the Kennedy motorcade.
I think that morning we were already assigned locations when we arrived at
headquarters. They didn't want anyone around the Presidential car, so
they told us to follow in behind the news media. We didn't know whose
instructions those were; it might have been from the Secret Service. I know
Johnson didn't want anyone around him, especially a motorcycle officer. He never
liked that motorcycle noise beside his car. In fact, he didn't like police
As we made it all the way from Love Field to downtown, it was a pretty routine motorcade till we got to Main and Houston, then we cut over north on Houston. Most of the front of the motorcade had already turned west on Elm Street down toward the Triple Underpass. At the time, I was approximately 150 feet south of Elm Street traveling north on Houston on the right hand side of the street. Suddenly, I heard these three shots. It was my impression that they came directly in front of me and high. I just assumed that they came from the top of the Texas School Book Depository Building. The shots were very distinct. The first two were pretty evenly spaced, and the last was a little bit closer. It was kind of BOOM!...BOOM!...BOOM! I wasn't sure what kind of gun it was. I just heard three distinct shots.
What attracted my attention was this huge bunch of pigeons that flew off, fifty to a hundred of them were flying off the top of this building. I just knew that it had to be close to them or they wouldn't be disturbed like that.
I immediately rode to the corner of Houston and Elm and parked my motorcycle. At that time, there was just mass confusion down there. I remember one woman standing on the corner screaming, "Oh, they shot that man! Oh, they shot that man!" I didn't know what man they had shot. I was assuming. So I ran into the building, and at that time, it seemed like everybody else was, too.
Most of them that were standing in front of it were going into the Texas School Book Depository Building. When I got there, I asked which way were the stairs or the elevator, and this man stepped up and said, "Officer, come on! I'm the building supervisor." So he led us into the back, and we tried to get the elevators, the freight elevators. For some reason he couldn't get them down so he said, "Come on, we'll take the stairway!" So we started up the stairwell at the back. I later learned that this was Mr. [Roy] Truly.
Mr. Truly was ahead of me. As he had turned the corner and started on around toward the third floor stairwell, I happened to look over in front of me, and about twenty feet away there was a doorway with a small glass. I caught a movement behind the glass, so I went over, opened up the door, and saw this man standing approximately twenty feet in this next room. At that time, I didn't know if it was a coffee room or what. By this time, I had drawn my pistol on the first flight of stairs. I called to him, "Hey, you!" and he started turning around toward me. He didn't have time to respond; it was momentary. He didn't have time to say anything, and I didn't have time to observe him.
About that time, Mr. Truly was beside me. I asked him if this man worked for him or if he knew him, and he said, "Yes, he works for me!" So we continued on up the stairwell to the sixth floor and to the top. Later it was learned that the man I had encountered was Lee Harvey Oswald. But at that time, the name Oswald would have meant nothing to me, especially after being told that he worked there.
When we went out on the roof, I saw immediately there was no way anyone could shoot from the rooftop because the ledge around it was too high. You'd have to stand up on top of the edge to be seen. There was also an old neon sign up there, so we climbed up on that sign, but there was no way that you could shoot straight. We also checked an old motor house that covered a motor or something, but it wasn't very big and there was nothing in it. You could see that no shots could have come from up there just as soon as you got up there and looked around. I then went to the edge and kind of raised myself up to get high enough to look over. Most of the people had gone by that time and very few were moving around. Really, I didn't pay any attention to those people down there. There were very few, and it looked to me like I saw some police officers going somewhere around those tracks. So, after several minutes on the roof, we turned around and came back down.
After I came back downstairs, I went outside. My motorcycle was the only one sitting out there. So I continued on out to Parkland. When I arrived at Parkland, it was all sealed off. The police had the hospital cut off at the entrance; no one came or went unless it was an emergency. So I checked in out there and was told to work crowd control.
In regard to all this, I don't consider myself an important person, especially when you're doing your job! I don't understand people's reasoning on that. We do it because we're a paid officer and it was involved in our work. Nor was I badgered by the Warren Commission. They asked me the questions and I answered them, and if they didn't understand, they'd ask again. And we went through it until we cleared up whatever was misunderstood.
One of the questions was whether Oswald could have made it from the sixth floor to the break room before I saw him. One day we ran some tests close to what I did, a reenactment of it. They determined that it was possible that Oswald could have gotten from the sixth floor to the second floor in the time that I started from where I was and got to the second floor. There was somewhere around five to ten seconds difference in each time we did it. We did what we assumed he did, and it was five to ten seconds off.
Since the assassination, basically, I've tried to forget this incident. I resent anyone saying it was Dallas that was at fault or anything like that. We did what we had to do under the circumstances, and I feel like we did a good job.
Officer Baker retired from the Dallas Police Department in 1977 and now lives on a farm outside Lancaster, Texas.
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