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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. XI - Page 310« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Sgt. A. Zahm James)

Mr. Specter.
are only four photographs on Exhibit No. 895 whereas there are eight on Commission Exhibit No. 902, so that necessarily the photograph through the rifle scope is much smaller as it is depicted on Exhibit No. 902, and I want you to bear that in mind, Sergeant Zahm, in answering the question as to whether you consider the shot at a distance of 265.3 feet to be difficult or not difficult; or characterize it for me in your own words.
Sergeant ZAHM. I consider it still an easy shot, a little more difficult from the President's body position and increase in distance of approximately 40 feet, but I still consider it an easy shot for a man with the equipment he had and his ability.
Mr. Specter.
Assuming that there were three shots fired in a range of 4.8 to 5.6 seconds, would that speed of firing at that range indicated in the prior questions be within Mr. Oswald's capabilities as a marksman?
Sergeant ZAHM. Yes.
Mr. Specter.
What effect if any would the alinement of the street have on the moving vehicle in the way that it is shown on the picture, Exhibit, No. 348?
Sergeant ZAHM. This is a definite advantage to the shooter, the vehicle moving directly away from him and the downgrade of the street, and he being in an elevated .position made an almost stationary target while he was aiming in, very little movement if any.
Mr. Specter.
How would the fact that the street had a 3° decline affect the difficulty of the shot.
Sergeant ZAHM. It would make it easier because Oswald was in an elevated position, and therefore if the car was traveling on a level terrain, it would apparently--he would have to keep adjusting by holding up a little bit as the car traveled. But by going downgrade this just straightened out his line of sight that much better.
Mr. Specter.
So that if the car had been proceeding on a level, the assassin would have had to have raised his weapon as the distance between the rifle and the car increased to allow for trajectory?
Sergeant ZAHM. No; just to allow for the movement of the targets, the travel. Assume that you are aiming standing at ground level and aiming down a little at somebody walking straight away from you, and you could hold your finger and point to him and never have to move it. But when he gets to the bottom of the hill and the ground levels out, then as he continues on you have to point your finger--
Mr. Specter.
Raise your finger as you are indicating with your finger now?
Sergeant ZAHM. Right; you would have to raise your finger to track the target.
Mr. Specter.
So that if you were aiming at a man in a moving car driving on the horizontal, as he got farther away from you, would you (a) hold your rifle at the same level, (b) lower it, or (c) raise it?
Sergeant ZAHM. If you were in an elevated, a slightly elevated position, and he was driving on straight level terrain, you would have to continually track and raise your weapon as he increased his distance from you.
Mr. Specter.
And if he was going down in an angle of descent, would that decrease the necessity for you to raise your rifle in tracking him?
Sergeant ZAHM. Right; it would slow the movement down. There still might be a slight movement, but it wouldn't be as fast. Therefore, not affecting the aiming or possibly having to introduce a lead in your aiming, because the target is staying relatively in the same position on the line of sight.
Mr. Specter.
So then it would have been an aid to the assassin to have had the President's car going on a downgrade because that would have taken into consideration some of the adjustment necessary by virtue of the greater distance between the rifle and the victim?
Sergeant ZAHM. Yes.
Mr. Specter.
Do you have anything to add, Sergeant Zahm, which you think might be helpful in this analysis?
Sergeant ZAHM. No, sir; I don't think so.
Mr. Specter.
Thank you very much for appearing before the Commission today, sir.

C. A. Hamblen

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