Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News
Dozens of people stood in Dealy Plaza to see President John F. Kennedy's motorcade through Dallas. Mary Moorman may have been one of the closest witnesses to tragedy and captured it on camera.
Dozens of people stood in Dealey Plaza 50 years ago, just hoping to catch a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy and the first lady. Instead, they witnessed the horror of a presidential assassination.
NBC 5's Jeff Smith caught up with one of the closest witnesses to the tragedy, Mary Moorman, and asked about the famous images forever captured in her camera.
Mary Moorman's 11-year-old son wanted to see JFK, but he had school on Nov. 22nd, 1963. So, Moorman made him a promise instead.
"I just told him, 'I'll take a picture for you;' never dreaming that I'd step out into history," she said.
Moorman and a friend drove downtown and picked out a quiet spot in Dealey Plaza.
"We were just carefree, young ladies raising a family, and we just decided to come downtown to see the president. And to see Jackie," she said. "We probably were more excited to see Jackie, to be honest."
Moorman brought along a Polaroid camera and started snapping photos as the motorcade approached.
She was standing about 25 feet away from the motorcade, the closest witness to one of the darkest days in American history.
"I had the car in the viewfinder the whole time and I just snapped the pictures," she said.
Moorman heard three sharp popping noises that she thought were firecrackers. Then, she heard the first lady.
"I heard Jackie say, 'Oh my god! He's been shot! He's been shot!'" Moorman said.
Moorman didn't know it at the time, but one of her photographs was taken less than one second after the fatal headshot.
"I saw his hair jump. And I thought, 'Oh, his hair jumped.' Well that wasn't just his hair. That was part of his head flying along with it. I know that his blood splattered," she said.
Conspiracy theorists have spent decades analyzing her picture, claiming it shows a second shooter on the grassy knoll.
"It was chaotic. People everywhere, running in the direction of the grassy knoll. There were many, many people running," Moorman said.
She said she doesn't know where the gunshots came from and that she was traumatized by what happened a few feet in front of her camera lens.
"I had seen a man killed in front of my eyes. Shot in front of my eyes. That had never happened before. And it certainly hasn't happened since, either," Moorman said.
Standing in Dealey Plaza 50 years later, Moorman said those horrific memories come rushing back.
"I'll just never forget that, as long as I live. That [Kennedy's] hair jumped. But it was not his hair. It was his head," Moorman said.
Her horror, and a nation's sorrow, captured forever in one infamous Polaroid.