JD Tippit was 39 years old and an eleven year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. At 1245pm that day, Tippit was in his patrol car when all officers were directed to central Dallas in response to the shooting. A few minutes later, a description of a possible suspect was broadcast. Around 110pm, Tippit was driving slowly up East 10th Street, when he saw a man walking who matched the description - it was Lee Harvey Oswald. Tippit stopped, and onlookers described Oswald walking over to the patrol car and a brief conversation ensuing (the contents of which remain unknown). Tippit got out of his car and walked to the front. Oswald suddenly pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his jacket, firing five shots and hitting Tippit four times; twice in the chest, once in the stomach and once in the head. Tippit was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead, while Oswald fled the scene, seeking refuge in a nearby movie cinema where he was captured shortly thereafter. Tippit's family learned of his death from radio news reports.
There's been a lot of speculation about where Oswald was headed when Tippit noticed him. He was clearly not returning to his apartment which was in the opposite direction. His decision to stop and the tragic shooting that ensued, led witnesses to attempt to track Oswald and to his ultimate capture.
JD Tippit was a Texas native who joined the US Army in 1944, served in the 17th Airborne Division, participating in Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine River in March 1945, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery in the course of action. Returning to America, he married his high school sweetheart, Marie Gasway, in 1946. They had three children, who were 13, 10 and 5 at the time of his death. JD's police salary was $490 a month in 1963 and he worked two part-time jobs to supplement the family income. He'd also received two citations for bravery while a Dallas police officer.
According to Cannon, Marie Tippit gave a rare interview to a Dallas paper in 2004 in which she said:
No amount of time can take away the pain I feel for the man I loved. And for anyone who thinks I’m over it, well, they never really knew J.D. Tippit.”Cannon reports that Bobby and Jackie Kennedy both reached out to Tippit's widow. Marie told Jackie that she and JD admired JFK and requested a picture of their family. Jackie sent the framed picture with this inscription:
“For Mrs. J.D. Tippit - with my deepest sympathy - and the knowledge that you and I now share another bond - reminding our children all their lives what brave men their fathers were - With all my wishes for your happiness, Jacqueline Kennedy."The plight of Tippit's widow and children touched Americans and they received $650,000 in donations. Among the largest contributions was $25,000 by Abraham Zapruder from the proceeds of the sale of his film of the assassination to Life Magazine.
(Photos below from Dallas Morning News)
Marie Tippit at her husband's funeral, November 25, 1963
Marie and her children at 2012 ceremony honoring JD