Among the legion of shows commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, REELZChannel offers up JFK: The Smoking Gun (Sunday, Nov. 3 at 8/7c), a documentary that sets out to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot the bullet that exploded the brain of the 35th President on Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas. Retired Australian homicide detective Colin McLaren, whose investigation is the focus of the REELZ film, revealed what's behind his theory of a second shooter.
TV Guide Magazine: Most surveys say about 75 percent of Americans still have questions regarding JFK's assassination. Why reopen that can of worms?
Colin McLaren: When I was still a detective, I read a book that included a theory by top American ballistics expert Howard Donahue and his analysis of Kennedy's assassination was outstanding. Fast forward to 2009, I had left the police department and was writing books and decided to do a proper forensics cold case study. Now that the secrecy provisions are lifted, I got hold of all the Warren Commission documents, and the sheriff's office and FBI's affidavits and documents.
TV Guide Magazine: What intrigued you about Donahue's findings?
McLaren: He was the first who said there had to be two guns, therefore two shooters and two different types of ammunition. The Warren Commission said a lot of nonsense about the three spent cartridges at the Texas Book Depository being the only rounds used that day. If you understand ballistics, the problem with that scenario was that Oswald was using full metal jacket bullet rounds that were designed to pass cleanly through a body. The bullet in JFK's head wound exploded violently upon impact. I did my own tests using different weapons and different types of ammunition and I concur completely with Donahue's analysis.
TV Guide Magazine: So where did the mortal shot come from?
McLaren: A Secret Service agent named George Hickey was in an open escort car at the back of JFK's limousine holding an AR-15 rifle, which uses the type of ammunition that explodes upon impact. We found 11 witnesses who saw him fall backward when the car braked sharply, and they believed he fired a shot. The Secret Service tried to cover up the fact that they had an AR-15 with them until they were forced to admit it.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you saying the shot that killed JFK was an accident?
McLaren: Yes. Hickey was brand new to the Secret Service and he was unqualified to be holding that weapon. He was attached to the car as a driver. He stumbled when the car braked sharply and accidentally shot President Kennedy in the back of the head. In the documentary we go into great detail using a proper ballistics exercise that shows that the bullet that entered the back of JFK's head and came out on the right side of his skull couldn't have been Oswald's because of his position and the downward grade of the road.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you believe the official documents support your case?
McLaren: I read 10,000 pages and 15 million words from witnesses on the ground. I first found a lady named Virgie Baker who was at the parade for the President who heard three different shots and said she could smell gun smoke. Lee Harvey Oswald was 295 feet behind JFK and six floors up and gunshot residue could never get down to the street. I found another nine people who said they smelled smoke and another 12 who saw smoke.
TV Guide Magazine: Didn't Agent Hickey sue the publisher after the 1992 book naming him came out?
McLaren: One lawsuit was thrown out because of the statute of limitations; a second attempt was settled out of court. By the way, George Hickey never spoke of the incident all the way to his death a few years back.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you believe that Oswald acted alone? Or are you a conspiracy theorist?
McLaren: I'm convinced that Oswald worked alone and that he shot two rounds from a clunky old bolt-action second-hand Italian rifle that no highly trained Soviet spy would have used. The AR-15 is efficient and deadly.
TV Guide Magazine: What did you intend to do with your research?
McLaren: To write my book [of the same name] which is out in the States as an ebook and on audio. But then filmmakers became interested, and finally REELZ. I think they're very brave to do it. But this is not about blackening the name of an individual or the Secret Service. It's about the truth.