Man who tracked JFK killer honoured
Published 23/11/2011 | 03:42
Police in Dallas, Texas, have honoured a man whose "keen observation skills and strong sense of civic duty" led them to Lee Harvey Oswald, who had crept into the back of a darkened cinema to hide shortly after the assassination of President John F Kennedy.
Police Chief David Brown presented Johnny Brewer with the department's Citizen's Certificate of Merit and praised his selfless act and "exemplary conduct" 48 years ago during a ceremony at the Texas Theatre - the same place where Oswald was captured about 80 minutes after President Kennedy was killed on November 22 1963.
"I'm just so overwhelmed," Mr Brewer, 70, said after receiving the award and watching a video of himself, then 22, recounting the events of that day.
Mr Brewer, a manager at a shoe store located about 90 steps from the Oak Cliff neighbourhood cinema, was listening to news reports about the president's assassination when he heard reports that a Dallas police officer, JD Tippit, had just been killed a few streets away.
A man whose behaviour seemed suspicious then walked into the foyer of the shoe shop. Mr Brewer said the man stared at the display in the window and acted scared as police cars with blaring sirens raced by.
After the last squad car passed in one direction, the man stepped out of the store and walked in the opposite direction toward the cinema.
Mr Brewer saw him go in without buying a ticket. He followed him, telling the woman in the box office to call police. Mr Brewer then shared his suspicions with the concessions operator and the two searched the cinema and stood by the emergency exits.
Hearing noise behind his alley-exit door, Mr Brewer opened it only to have police guns aimed at him. The cinema lights went on and Mr Brewer pointed out the suspicious man seated in the cinema. Oswald was arrested after a brief scuffle, during which he punched an officer and pulled a gun.
Oswald was shot dead two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of police headquarters while being transferred to the county jail.
Since then, Mr Brewer said he served in the navy, then moved to Austin, where he still lives, having retired from a career in sales.