JFK author discovered eerie incident that occurred a year before the assassination

EXCLUSIVE– This November marks the 60-year anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and one author says he’s surprised more people aren’t talking about another open motorcade incident that occurred about a year before.

Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed Kennedy during an open motorcade ride through Dealey Plaza, Dallas, on Nov. 22, 1963, leaving the country in shock and mourning. According to author Stephen F. Knott, a professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College, Kennedy may have also been in danger in the fall of 1962.

Knott discovered evidence in the archives of the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston where he once worked. In his research, Knott found that during an open-vehicle presidential motorcade in Springfield, Illinois, on Oct. 19, 1962, a witness saw a rifle pointed at JFK from a second story downtown building.

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“The only thing new that I learned was that there had been a previous near miss, let’s say, almost a year earlier at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which would have been a disaster,” Knott told Fox News Digital. “President Kennedy visited Springfield, Ill., to lay a wreath at the tomb of Abraham Lincoln and then to deliver a political speech. And while he was parading in an open car through downtown Springfield, a police officer spotted a rifle with a scope on it, emerged from a nearby building under which Kennedy’s limousine was going to pass.”

Even more unnerving, Knott continued, was that Kennedy was supposed to take the same route on his return.

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“What made it even more frightening was Kennedy was scheduled to return on the exact same route,” Knott said. “And thankfully, this Illinois police officer spotted it.” 

Local police arrested a 20-year-old man and 16-year-old boy after an Illinois Department of Public Safety employee saw them pointing a .22-caliber rifle. The firearm and a box of ammunition were confiscated, but the pair was never charged with a crime. They had argued that they had only wanted to get a better look at the president, according to reports. 

“The Secret Service held these two individuals for a time,” Knott said. “They insisted that all they wanted to do was to get a better look at the president. And it seems to me kind of odd that you use a rifle scope to do that.”

Gerald Blaine, a Secret Service agent who was assigned to the Springfield trip, opened up to Gatehouse Media about the incident. He agreed that using a rifle scope to observe the president seemed odd. But he didn’t seem to share Knott’s belief that the incident was a big deal.

“That would take an idiot to do that,” Blaine said. He recalled how a rifle had been confiscated that day but admitted he hasn’t thought much about the incident and that it’s been “thoroughly investigated.”

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Knott said Springfield was a “missed opportunity” to improve presidential protection practices, while acknowledging Kennedy’s consistent desire to be closer to the crowds.

“But no changes were made,” he said. “And, you know, this is October of ’62. He’s going to be killed in November of ’63. And it’s really, I think, perhaps a missed opportunity where Kennedy’s security could have been enhanced. Now, having said that, it’s also true that President Kennedy never liked the idea of being cut off from the people. Always rejected the idea of putting some sort of bubble top on his limousine. So that’s the only new revelation.” 

“Thirteen months later, under similar circumstances, after gunshots echoed throughout Dealey Plaza, some in the Secret Service must have wished that the episode in the shadow of Lincoln’s Tomb had been taken more seriously,” Knott wrote in 2016 for the History News Network.

Countless words and conspiracy theories have surrounded the investigation of JFK’s assassination, including one persistent theory that Oswald was not the sole shooter that day. Knott said he endorses the lone-shooter theory, however.

“The other thing I should add is I was always of the school of thought that there probably was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy,” Knott told Fox Digital. “I’m no longer in that camp. I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that the evidence against Oswald is pretty damning. So I’m not of the school of thought that buys into some conspiracy.” 

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