Dallas, Texas — Just 12 hours after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, reporters from all over the world crammed into Dallas police headquarters to try and interview the suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald.
“I got jostled,” said reporter Bill Mercer, who was with CBS affiliate KRLD at the time. “I’m small, so I got pushed behind the door one time, I’m pummeled.”
Mercer had just received a tip from an officer that Oswald had formally been charged with murdering the president, something that Oswald didn’t even know, until Mercer broke the news to him on camera.
“You have been charged, sir,” Mercer told Oswald on camera. “You have been charged.”
“And he looked at me, ‘What?'” the now 97-year-old Mercer recounted to CBS News this week. “And I said, ‘You have been charged with the murder of the president.'”
Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas police headquarters on Nov. 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy’s assassination.
Nearly 60 years later, Camera No. 3 from that interview finally belongs to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, which chronicles the Kennedy assassination.
In January, Mercer was reunited with this piece of history in a visit to the museum.
“This is particularly special because we have the footage, we have the artifact, and we have the man who was reporting that news,” Nicola Longford, Sixth Floor Museum CEO, said.
Longford explained that, decades later, physical artifacts are still popping up from that moment in time.
“We need to have physical items that animate people’s imaginations and try to step back into a historic moment,” Longford said.
Camera No. 3, which is almost too heavy to lift, will go on display to the public later this year to mark 60 years since Kennedy’s death. For Mercer, it’s a piece of history that he will never forget.
“Well, it’s great because, what if we hadn’t had the camera?” reflects Mercer. “It would just be a nothing piece of audio, maybe.”
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