©2010 by Rod Harrel
Author's Note: This is the original script for the documentary of the same (see link to video below).
Thirty years later there remains the accepted history of John Lennon’s death: a lone nut Beatle fan gunned down the pop culture hero. The songs, the tributes, the articles, the videos rarely mentioned the killer, and when they do, he was always alone. Or, perhaps, he did have company, but it was in the form of his demons, his misconceptions of Christianity, or his craving for infamy. A lone nut, a fan no less, had gunned down our dear, beloved, ex-Beatle John. It would seem all sewn up, except for what Sean Lennon said in 1998.
“He was a countercultural revolutionary, and the government takes that shit really seriously historically,” Sean Lennon said of his father’s death. “He was dangerous to the government…These pacifist revolutionaries are historically killed by the government, and anybody who thinks that Mark Chapman was just some crazy guy who killed my dad for his personal interests is insane, I think, or very naïve, or hasn’t thought about it clearly. It was in the best interests of the United States to have my dad killed, definitely. And, you know, that worked against them, to be honest, because once he died his powers grew. So, I mean, fuck them. They didn’t get what they wanted.”1
|Photo: Bob Gruen|
The quote, from an interview, was an amazing thing to see in print: Sean intuitively lays out the groundwork for further investigation of his father’s death. Unfortunately, perhaps predictably, less than two weeks after the interview there was some serious backpedaling by Sean. Older half-brother, Julian Lennon, had publicly chastised Sean, saying that his remarks were “ill-advised” and that “if you’re going to say something like that, you need to have your facts.” Through a spokesman, Sean said that he regretted saying what he did immediately after the interview.2 In the world of celebrity, the word regret is apparently a synonym for “sorry that I told the truth.” All that is left is a brotherly debate, in public no less.
Incredibly, in the conspiracy-strewn landscape of American pop culture, the Lennon brothers’ statements represent only the second public contradiction of the accepted history their father’s assassination. Only Fenton Bresler’s groundbreaking 1989 book, Who Killed John Lennon? stands as the first. The book caused nary a ripple in the mainstream media, the press corps, America’s fourth estate.
If intended as a trial balloon, Sean’s comments about the assassination proved to be deflated by a mainstream media that adopted a derisive tone. Sean should not have backpedaled at all. His opinion is pretty close to the actual events surrounding the shooting. John Lennon was assassinated on December 8th, 1980 as the result of a conspiracy. The evidence is obtainable from published government documents and contemporaneous press reports.
The following facts stand out
- At least eight bullets were fired; the killer’s gun was a five shot revolver.
- There were at least two different bullet trajectories.
- The claim by the known killer, Mark Chapman, and his uncle, that the bullets he used were hollow-points is not true.
- The album of Chapman’s that John signed was later found in Chapman’s hotel room but he did not leave the scene until he was arrested.
- The spying on John Lennon by agencies of the United States Government (USG) and his attempted deportation by the same.
- Yoko Ono was harassed for several years after the assassination in an espionage situation much like those perpetrated by agencies of the USG in the early 1970’s.
In his book, Bresler, goes almost as far as to say that the only accused and convicted killer, Chapman, was a Manchurian Candidate. This is unlikely insofar Chapman was not acting like a programmed robot. He was quite deliberate in his actions, taking his orders consciously, not subconsciously. Bresler, however, does give a coherent and fascinating history of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) MK/Ultra mind control program and the use of the drug, LSD, on unwitting subjects. He also shows the frightening lengths that some USG agencies were willing to go to achieve their aims. More importantly, it was Bresler who tied together the nasty history of USG harassment of John Lennon and his timely assassination.
In the ethereal world of the Internet, Bresler’s book has been looked upon as a sort of Holy Grail in non-mainstream publications. The theories born on the web through the book lack an almost complete understanding of what happened that unusually balmy night in New York City. Rather than show that there was more than one gunman, hence a conspiracy, these on-line publications go out of their way to name the “real” killer of John Lennon. Oddly enough, these “real” killers are not Chapman, who becomes a latter day Lee Harvey Oswald, e.g., a patsy. Chapman was no patsy, he was a shooter and he was not alone. His five shot revolver could not account for the at least eight to ten bullets that were fired at John.
There it is again; a lone gunman who fired more shots than was possible from his gun. There were the covert operations taken against John Lennon for years before and for years after he got his green card in July, 1976, and the right to reside in the America as a resident alien. There was also the domestic and foreign spying on John and the massive effort undertaken by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), spearheaded by the Nixon administration, to deport him back to England. It is all too sickeningly familiar to other assassinations and attempts since the early 20th century. For thirty years there has existed a conspiracy of silence in the assassination of John Lennon.
Amazingly the media has ignored, and continues to ignore, any connection with the political harassment John Lennon and Yoko Ono endured by agencies of the USG and his timely death just at the beginning of the [P] Reagan/Bush years. Whether by knowledge or deed, the USG knows more about the assassination than it is willing to admit. It continues to withhold vast amounts of the singer’s government files, “…in the interest of the nation defense or foreign policy.”3 An ex-Beatle???
The FBI opened a file on The Beatles when they came to America in 1964 to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. The FBI had been routinely spying on rock and roll acts since 1955. The first reports in the FBI files on The Beatles dealt with everything from death threats toward the group and, more ominously, racial tension or unrest as of the result of their concert appearances. The FBI was concern about any racial unrest that would result from their concerts. “…no additional information has been received specifically indicating any possible violence involving racial aspects in connection with the appearance of the Beatles, a quartet singing group on tour from England, at Municipal Stadium the night of September 17, 1964. (Name redacted) said that a few apparently baseless and unverifiable rumors had come to his attention suggesting that one or two Muslims or ex-Muslims…had been overheard to say ‘some trouble might occur’.”4 In another document the FBI was concerned that, “…since the ball park (Municipal Stadium) is located in a Negro residential neighborhood, the possibility of Negro involvement in any spontaneous action is recognized…”5 Of course, no such provocations occurred during any concert. In fact, The Beatles refused to perform at concerts that were segregated. Was this the source of the FBI’s concern, the mix of white and black youth?
The summer of 1966 was the first time The Beatles and especially John suffered under intense media controversy. By this time, America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was raging and people were beginning to protest against it en masse. In an unprecedented move for a pop group, the Beatles responded during a press conference that the war was wrong. They were against the war. The bells went off at the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense and the like.
Meanwhile, an interview that John gave to the London Evening Standard was reprinted in American teen magazines. Originally published in February, 1966, the interview had morphed into something else by the time it got to America. The headlines in the teen magazines screamed, “John Lennon Says The Beatles Are Bigger Than Jesus Christ”. USG agencies certainly took notice. Yet, as Brian Epstein noted in a hastily called press conference before their American tour, “…the interview was taken entirely out of context.” In the original interview by Maureen Cleeve, John was asked his views on religion, if any. He said that, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink…We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.” He said that Jesus’ disciples were thick and ordinary, “…(they’re) the ones that ruin it for me.”6 John was forced to make a public apology.
By 1968, John was known as the political and/or crazy Beatle. John had met Yoko in 1966 but it wasn’t until the summer of 1968 that they got together. They released an album called Two Virgins which was remembered for nothing else but the fact that they were both naked on the cover. This was worthy of the attention of the United States Army, among others. Nakedness was apparently subversive.
John and Yoko were busted for possession of a small amount of hash in 1968. In the end they were charged with “moral turpitude.” Although a minor infraction in England, when John and Yoko moved to America in 1971, it would prove to be devastating.
Once in New York, John and Yoko were under constant surveillance by the FBI and other USG agencies. Some of John’s songs on his solo records were outwardly political. This was especially so on the Sometime In New York City album. Released in 1972, the album was an unabashed political tome about almost every current cause. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) began its campaign to deport the singer, thanks in no small measure with help from other USG agencies. This harassment went on for years. John and Yoko were followed, phone tapped, and bugged. John’s lawyers eventually worked out an agreement where John would essentially, shut up, and then he could get his green card. He could become a resident alien.
John did not release any new records between 1976 and 1980. The usual reason given was that he had become a househusband. In fact, before he let his record contract expire in 1976, the last song he recorded was one he wrote for Ringo, “Cookin’ In The Kitchen (Of Love)”. John was raising his baby boy, Sean, and didn’t think of stepping into a recording studio until his son was five. This may be true, but coincidentally, just after Sean’s fifth birthday, John’s status as a resident alien would have changed.
In January, 1981, John would have become eligible for United States citizenship. If he were to become a citizen, the incoming Republican administration would not have the option available to the previous Republican administration: that of deportation. This bit of history is conveniently left out of the official story, as was the fact that John, Yoko and Sean had planned to participate in a street demonstration the Friday after his assassination.
Planning to participate in this demonstration broke a long-standing agreement between John and the INS. Still deportable as a resident alien, John nonetheless decided to go to San Francisco to march. He knew as a citizen he could express his beliefs without fear of deportation, but he wanted go anyway. The USG agencies knew this as well.
That elements of the USG would want to kill John Lennon is no surprise to anyone who followed the long running battle between agencies of the USG and the musician. The FBI had labeled John a “revolutionary” in the early 1970’s and they were not talking about the songs he had written. A “revolutionary” in the mindset of the USG agencies meant that John was actively seeking to overthrow the United States Government! An ex-Beatle. The agency probably knew that he was preparing to participate in a street demonstration in San Francisco on the Friday after his death.
That planned demonstration was in support of striking Asian dockworkers against the mult-national Japanese conglomerate Kikkoman. One of the organizers of the union worker’s demonstration was Yoko’s cousin, Shinya Ono. He had been a member of the Weatherman faction of the Students for Democratic Society in the 1960’s. The FBI and other USG agencies, of course, spied upon that group. Shinya was one of many people on the FBI’s list of “known radicals” that hung out with John Lennon.7
To understand the mindset of the incoming Republican administration in 1980 toward the so-called mild-mannered househusband, look no further than the mindset of the previous one. Richard Nixon and his power brokers had this little problem in 1972; it was called Watergate. USG agencies often work as strong arms for presidential election campaigns. Sometimes an agency or a rogue agent can go off in their zeal to keep or put a man in power. President Nixon was such a man, and the FBI, CIA, INS, among others, were such agencies
In 1972, John and Yoko were planning on fronting a rock concert to be held in Miami. The concert would coincide with Republican National Convention. President Nixon was not happy about John Lennon upstaging him at his re-nomination. John and Yoko’s recent leftist friends were pushing the deal and it read like the FBI’s list of “known radicals.” Just who were John and Yoko hanging out with when they first moved to New York? There was Abbey Hoffman, the Black Panthers, and numerous, numerous, numerous others.
The prevailing wisdom in the mainstream press was that if John had not gone off his rocker, now he really had. There were talks about moving the Republican National convention to another city! Yet, it was all for naught, as the concert was mysteriously cancelled. Posing nude for an album cover was one thing; trying to defeat the President was quite another thing
There is, of course, an accepted history to how all those agencies started spying on John. In 1971, Senator Strom Thurmond suggested to his pal, Attorney General John Mitchell, that it might be a good idea to have the INS deport John considering his radical views. Mitchell promptly passed this on to the INS which amped up its arsenal of machinery and it wasn’t until 1976 and many court battles later that John finally received his green card. Although this history is basically correct, it is in a time warp. The FBI spying began in 1964, as we know, with The Beatles and in 1968 began to focus more and more on John, and to a lesser degree, George Harrison. The US Army, the CIA, et al., and, yes, even our friends at the INS, were violating John’s rights before well before1971.
Remember Sean Lennon’s comment, “These pacifist revolutionaries are historically killed by the government, and anybody who thinks that Mark Chapman was just some crazy guy who killed my dad for his personal interests is insane, I think, or very naïve, or hasn’t thought about it clearly. It was in the best interests of the United States to have my dad killed, definitely.”
The following selected documents show the frightening lengths that the USG agencies did, or planned to, go. Even the released documents from John Lennon’s FBI files have in most instances been heavily censored, or in the intelligence parlance, redacted. His files remain basically under wraps to this very day, in the nauseous refrain, due to the interests of national security. This chronology is based on material published by Jon Wiener and the pioneering Fenton Bresler.
23 April, 1970: the CIA files on John Lennon contain a copy of a memo sent by J. Edgar Hoover to FBI offices in Los Angeles and New York on this date. “On 4/22/70 a representative of the Department of State advised that the American Embassy in London had submitted information showing the captioned individuals (John Lennon, George Harrison, Patti Harrison) planned to depart from London, England on 4/23/70 via TWA flight 761 which will arrive in Los Angeles at 7:15 local time…Lennon will be travelling under the name Chambers and the Harrisons are using the name Masters. While Lennon and the Harrisons have shown no propensity to become involved in violent antiwar demonstrations, each recipient remain alert for any information of such activity on their part or for information indicating that they are using narcotics. Submit any pertinent information obtained in form suitable for dissemination.”
7 Febraury, 1972: this was contained in an FBI document regarding John’s application to become a US citizen, “CIA has requested that all (relevant) information be classified ‘Secret – No Foreign Dissemination/No Dissemination Abroad’. CIA has requested details of information be furnished in daily summary teletype.” [emphasis added] The USG was keeping its spying of John and Yoko a secret from their foreign “friends”. The CIA wanted to be furnished with a daily report. An ex-Beatle?
1972: this is from an INS document, “(John Lennon and Yoko Ono) are judge to be political and unfavorable to the present [Nixon] administration. Because of this and their controversial behavior, they are to be judged as both undesirable and dangerous aliens…Your office is to maintain a constant surveillance of their residence and a periodic report is to be sent to this office.” This document shows that the FBI, the CIA and at least the INS were maintaining daily spying on John and Yoko. They were now considered dangerous and undesirable aliens, for god sakes.
25 April, 1972: the following is contained in a memo from the Acting Attorney General to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, “This information is also being furnished to the Honorable H. R. Haldeman, Assistant to the President, at the White House. Pertinent information concerning Lennon is being furnished to the Department of State and the INS on a regular basis.” Now the Nixon White House was into the daily reporting on the spying.
18 September, 1973: this memo from the Justice Department to the FBI proves that there was illegal surveillance of John Lennon. “Any memoranda…which demonstrate pertinent leads which may have come from the illegal electronic surveillance.” [emphasis added] It is now seen that USG agencies were unlawfully spying on John and Yoko. The type of spying by these agencies were both overt and covert. The overt methods should be noted.
21 September, 1973: this FBI teletype is concerning a records review that may have come at the request of John’s lawyers. Here is a classic case of plausible deniability as the FBI conducted a records review which, “failed to indicate Lennon or premises in which he had proprietary interest have been subjected to any lawful surveillance.” [emphasis added] USG agencies were conducting unlawful electronic surveillance while reporting, truthfully, they were conducting no lawful electronic surveillance.
One of the last known FBI documents in John Lennon’s file is dated August, 1976, after he won his green card and the right to legally stay in America as a resident alien. President Nixon had resigned from office in disgrace two years previously, but that didn’t seem to matter. “No investigation should be conducted concerning subject but your sources should be alerted to the subject’s presence in the area covered by your office. Any information developed indicating activity outside the scope of the intended purpose while in the United States should be promptly furnished to the bureau.”8
The Nixon administration wanted John Lennon out of the country. Deported. The FBI labeled him a “revolutionary activist”, one who is actively seeking to overthrow the United States Government! An ex-Beatle? After the court victory, the FBI began scaling back its aggressive spying against John and Yoko, yet, the FBI, et al, sources were asked to be alerted to John’s whereabouts in their particular area. John’s decision to return to street demonstrations in December, 1980 would certainly have been thought of as, “outside the scope of the intended purpose while in the United States…”
At about 5pm on 8 December, 1980, John Lennon had his first run in with what the New York Police Department (NYPD) would later described as, “a local screwball.” John autographed a copy of the Double Fantasy album for Mark David Chapman. This was John’s first new album in five years.
|Photo: Paul Goresh|
The accepted history has Chapman stalking the eternal “ex-Beatle” for days then shooting him to death when John and Yoko returned home from a recording studio. Chapman was crouching next to the archway and after John and Yoko walked passed he walked up behind them calling out, “Mr. Lennon”. As the musician turned he had no time to react as he was hit by four of Chapman’s five shots.
John staggered up the steps and into the Dakota office, followed by a frantic Yoko Ono. The killer tossed the gun to the ground as the doorman, Jose Perdomo, screamed at him, “do you know what you just did?” The killer replied, “I just shot John Lennon.” Perdomo kicked the gun across the driveway as Chapman calmly folded his coat and leaned up against the wall reading The Catcher In The Rye. The police arrived within minutes and arrested him at the scene.9
In the days that followed, Newsweek, Time, People, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press International (UPI), the embryonic Nightline and CNN fell over themselves pitching the “deranged Beatle fan” motive. Chapman, they reported, was a nutcase. He heard voices, he reported to an imaginary government of little people, and he was struggling with concepts of Christianity. Baby-boomers were stunned by John’s murder and the added sting of the murderer being a “deranged fan” did not sit well at all. The memories of all those screaming girls were still too recent.
Chapman pled guilty, sparing everyone the pain of a trial, and was sentenced to twenty years to life. Numerous books have been written about what a wacko Chapman is, there’s been a TV movie and probably a graphic novel. Through it all, the media soothes us with the message that John lives on in his music.
The accepted history leaves us with a locked-up lone nut and dead culture hero. This history is a falsehood, it is a specter. The facts reveal a sane man locked-up in a prison for the sane and another man shot to death for deep political reasons. As described by Peter Dale Scott in his book, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, deep politics are those that the masses should not, ever, know. Occasionally, however, these deep political underworlds burble up to the surface. They are sometimes obliquely sighted and reported in the overworld and before the implications of what is going on are clear, the political underworld sinks back into obscurity.10
In the assassination of John Lennon, the first burbles occurred with the initial AP wire service reports, continued on with The New York Times and dissipated with the newsweeklies and Rolling Stone. About thirty minutes after the shooting, the first AP bulletin came at 11:24pm Eastern Time that unusually balmy New York 8 December night. The bulletin was eerily similar to the way it began with the JFK, the RFK, and the MLK assassinations.
“There’s a report that John Lennon has been shot,” AP began with a sense of disbelief, “it happened in New York on the Upper West Side. Police say a man tentatively identified as the former Beatle was shot and wounded and taken in a police car to Roosevelt Hospital. A suspect has been taken into custody. No word just yet on how serious it is.”11 For many in the radio industry, reading this bulletin, the fact that John was taken to the hospital in a police car meant he was dead or very near death.
Then, thirteen minutes later AP reported, “Officers at the 20th precinct in New York confirm that it was former Beatle John Lennon who was shot and wounded tonight. And a police officer describes Lennon’s condition as serious…Police described the suspect they have in custody as ‘a local screwball.’ And they say there was no apparent motive for the shooting.”12 Within one hour of the shooting the NYPD knew and reported that Chapman had a history of mental illness.
“A local screwball.” Certainly Chapman was not local in the sense that he lived in New York. He was hanging around outside the Dakota for several days before the assassination. Several weeks before the assassination Chapman had spent several days outside the Dakota, but he didn’t shoot John at that time. He left New York and went back to his hometown in Georgia, complaining to his wife about a failed mission. “A local screwball.”
Twice, in Hawaii, Chapman was admitted to mental institutions. How did this information become so quickly known and publicly reported in the vernacular of the NYPD? Mae Brussell, a journalist who broke the Watergate break-in story two months before the Washington Post, claimed that Chapman’s home of Honolulu was significant given his admittance to and then employment at a local mental health clinic. “There are mind control places in Hawaii,” Brussell said, “(t)here are hospitals there where it would be very convenient for that sort of thing to be going on. There are a lot of military and naval bases in Hawaii where we send all kinds of people to do all kinds of secret things.”13 The NYPD knew about Chapman’s mental history. That was yet another burble. Within thirty minutes of his death at Roosevelt Hospital, at 11:43pm Eastern time, the AP reported merely that John Lennon had been “shot dead.”14 It is far past the time to reject the accepted history. More than one gunman shot John Lennon, his assassination was the result of a conspiracy.
No fewer than fifteen people were reported as eye- or ear-witnesses to the shooting or bullet damage. Half of these were within thirty feet of the shooting. Of those, only four were reported as witnessing the actual shooting. Only, burble if you will, four reported eyewitnesses.
Cab driver, Richard Peterson, who was parked behind John and Yoko’s limo, saw Chapman point his gun, assume a three point stance, but only remembers him firing three or four times.15 A passerby identified in The New York Times as only Nina, asked Chapman after the shooting, “what happened and he said, ‘I’d go away if I were you.’”16 Sean Strub, who was walking on the sidewalk about thirty yards east of the shooting said, “he just walked out and shot him,” as John Lennon and Yoko Ono and their group walked into the Dakota.17
Who made up this group? They were also identified as “several people” in the 9 December, 1980 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. John was also described in a United Press International (UPI) story as, “gunned down…as…friends watched.”18 Days later, there was no longer any mention of this group, or friends, in the accepted history. Hard to believe, but their existence does raise the possibility of more eyewitnesses, among other things.
Chapman, in later interviews, said he used hollow-point bullets, although they certainly did not behave like them. Hollow-points are designed to explode inside the body, causing massive internal damage. The autopsy report released to the press makes absolutely no mention of bullet fragments inside John’s body. It stated, “(t)wo bullets hit Lennon in the left back, hit the lung and passed out through the chest…The two other bullets both hit Lennon’s left shoulder. One shattered the shoulder bone and went out…”19
There were at least three bullet holes in the Dakota office glass door and one bullet hole in the office window. That is a total of four bullet holes. In addition to them, The New York Times reported that, “there were bullet holes in the structure and blood on the bricks of the building.”20 Giving the benefit of the doubt, that is a total of at least six bullet holes. One bullet that passed through John was found in his leather jacket, another bullet was lodge in his neck. That bullet tore through his sub-clavian artery and killed him. That is a total of at least eight bullets. Not bad for Chapman’s five shot revolver.
|"At least three bullet holes in the glass door..."|
Chapman did not reload his gun and fire more bullets. Peterson, the cab driver, saw Chapman throw his gun to the ground after the shooting. Ben Eruchson, another cab driver parked behind Peterson’s cab, was amazed that Chapman stood around after the shooting. “He could have gotten away. He had plenty of time.”21
The accepted history cannot explain what really happened that night. The facts support a conspiracy in the assassination of John Lennon. To begin with, Chapman was standing on the east side of the Dakota’s archway. John and Yoko’s limousine pulled up to the curb. Yoko got out first, followed a few feet behind by John. Yoko passed by Chapman first and he smiled at her, she continued to walk toward the Dakota office door. John walked past Chapman and gave him what Chapman later described as “hard look” and began walking faster.22 Chapman did not call out “Mr. Lennon” and therefore John did not turn around. Chapman assumed a three-point stance, gripped his gun with both hands and took aim at John’s back. Chapman emptied his five shot revolver and two bullets hit John’s left lung and passed completely through, one of these bullets was found in John’s leather jacket. The other three shots were misses, causing damage to the façade of the Dakota. None of these bullets were on a trajectory that could have reached the glass door to the office.
And yet, the damned ex-Beatle did not fall. Another assassin, almost directly across from the Dakota office, fired more bullets at John with a gun equipped with a silencer. Here is a big burble about the second gunman, “…police said the suspect stepped from an alcove and emptied several shots into Mr. Lennon…”23 Chapman was standing next to the archway, the only alcove would be across from the office door where the service elevator happens to be and that is more than fifteen feet away. The second gunman’s bullets hit John’s left shoulder; one shattered his shoulder and went out, hitting either the office window or the glass door, the other bullet lodged in his neck. The other shots may have all been misses, hitting the office door and/or the office window, or they may have caused additional wounds.
There were two reports of additional wounds to John that did not appear in the released autopsy report to the media. The full autopsy report is under wraps, as repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act have failed to release it. John was reported shot in the leg according to a police report quoted in the Associated Press Newswatch Sidelights on 9 December, 1980 at 5:20pm EST. He was also reported shot in the head in a United Press International story that appeared in the Yakima Herald-Republic, by a spokesman for Roosevelt Hospital. At least eight, probably ten, bullets were fired at John Lennon that night, causing the damage to his body, the façade of the Dakota, the office window and the office door.
Jay Hastings, the doorman inside the Dakota office, heard several shots and then the sound of shattering glass. His report is another burble: there was a conspiracy in John’s assassination. Bullets travel faster than the speed of sound. Hasting’s heard shots and then the sound of shattering of glass; he heard Chapman’s gun and then the effects of bullets fired from a weapon with a silencer. Hastings was frozen, a bullet had also come through the office window, then John stumbled through the door with, “a horrible, confused look on his face,” and collapsed on the floor, scattering the cassette tapes he had been holding in his hand. Yoko rushed in yelling, “John’s been shot!” Hastings attended to the prostrate musician, who was gurgling up blood, vomit and bits of flesh. He tried to tie on a tourniquet, but there was too much blood. Hastings summoned the police, and than ran outside to confront the gunman. On the way out, Hastings noted the “splintered office window.”24
Officer Steve Spiro was in the first patrol car to arrive outside the Dakota after the shooting. At first, Spiro and his partner believed that Hastings, covered with blood, was the shooter. Perdomo told them it was the calmly reading Chapman. Officer Spiro felt so threatened by what he called “suspicious people” that he “used the suspect as a shield” until convinced there was no further danger. Now, that is another interesting burble. Why, several minutes after the shooting, would the arriving police officer feel threatened? Spiro said in his own report that he used Chapman as a shield against other people whom he felt were a threat. It was then that other people convinced him there was no more danger and Chapman was the only suspect. Why? Officer Spiro’s report is unfortunately vague about this whole matter.
Significantly, Officer Spiro also noted in his report that there were, “at least three bullet holes in the glass door.”25 There is also video evidence to corroborate not only Spiro’s but other witnesses’ claims of bullet holes in the office door. The amateur video was shown on local New York City television station channel seven the night of the shooting. The video shows four bullet holes in the glass door.26 The office door in the video is propped open. This has led to speculation that a propped open door would be in line with the trajectory of Chapman’s gun. Well, the office door was not propped open at the time of the assassination.
Some eye-witnesses, a diagram of the shooting that appeared in The New York Times, and drawing, based on the Times diagram no doubt, which appeared in Newsweek show Chapman standing on the east side of the Dakota’s archway. This is even more difficult to reconcile with what really happened by having Chapman standing to John’s right, because bullets hit John in the left back. That was a burble of camouflage, it would appear.
Other officers arrived at the murder scene and Chapman was placed in the backseat of a patrol car. Spiro decided that John didn’t have time to wait for an ambulance and he and five other people, including Hastings, picked up John and carried him to a patrol car. Hastings remembers hearing the bones in John’s left shoulder cracking and that his arms and legs were akimbo. Officer Moran sped John to Roosevelt Hospital, repeatedly asking him if he was indeed John Lennon. The only response he received was a mumbled “yes.”
At the hospital, doctors rushed John into an operating room and worked on him for over fifteen minutes. It was useless. The musician had simply lost too much blood and the shock to his body prevented any resuscitation. The doctors pronounced John Lennon dead at 11:15pm EST. The press conference given by Dr. Stephen Lynn was accompanied by cries and gasps from the normally stoic press corps when he announced the death.
Chapman took aim at the musician’s back from ten to twenty feet away and fired his gun rapidly. The additional bullets fired at John were silenced, as was any talk. Chapman, Yoko Ono and eyewitnesses agreed there was no one calling out, “Mr. Lennon.” John was not turning around to the sound of his name because it was never spoken. John was walking faster after passing Chapman, perhaps he sensed something, and perhaps he did not, yet he was quite literally walking into a trap.
These notes relate to either quotes or opinions based from the cited work.
1 Rebecca Mead, “Department of Legacies”, The New Yorker, 20 April, 1998
2 Rod Patterson, “The People Column”, The Oregonian, 2 May, 1998, pg. C2
4 FBI document, # unknown, 18 September, 1964
5FBI document, # unknown, 3 September, 1964
6 The Beatles-the authorized biography, pp. 265-266
3&7 Come Together, pp. 303-305
8 Who Killed John Lennon?, pg. 71
9 Associated Press bulletin, “Bulletin”, 8 December, 1980, 11:37pm EST
“Beatle John Lennon Shot To Death”, Yakima Herald-Republic, 9 December, 1980, pg. A1
Associated Press bulletin, “Newswatch Sidelights”, 9 December, 1980, 5:20pm EST
10 Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK; University of California Press – Berkeley, 1993
11 Associated Press bulletin, “Bulletin”, 8 December, 1980, 11:24pm EST
12 Associated Press bulletin, “Bulletin”, 8 December, 1980 11:37pm EST
13 Who Killed John Lennon?, pg. 126
14 Associated Press bulletin, “Bulletin”, 8 December, 1980, 11:43pm EST
15 Jack Jones, Let Me Take You Down; Villard Books – New York, 1992, pg. 4
16 Les Ledbetter, “John Lennon Of Beatles Is Killed; Suspect Held In Shooting At Dakota”, The New York Times; 9 December, 1980, pg. B7
17 Yakima Herald-Republic, 9 December, 1980, pg. A1
18 Michelle Mundith, “Beatle Fans Turn To Disc Jockeys”, United Press International, 9 December, 1980
19 Associated Press bulletin, “Newswatch Sidelights”, 9 December, 1980, 6:32pm EST
21 The New York Times, 9 December, 1980, pg. A1
22 Let Me Take You Down, pg. 5 and pg. 45
23 The New York Times, 9 December, 1980, pg. B7
24 Gregory Katz, “Inside the Dakota”, Rolling Stone; 22 January, 1981, pg. 17
25 Who Killed John Lennon?, pg. 203
Let Me Take You Down, pg. 4
26 Steve Salvador, What Happened, internet, 2003
LINK TO THE VIDEO:
Eye and Ear Witness Accounts
Here is a list of some of the known ear and eye-witnesses to the shooting and/or bullet damage and the witnesses known locations at the time of the assassination.
BEN ERUCHSON – A cab driver dropping off a passenger at the Dakota at the time of the shooting. He was behind Richard Peterson’s cab, which was behind John and Yoko’s limousine. He reported no number of shots or Chapman’s location at the time of the shooting, but he did say the Chapman, “…could have gotten away. He had plenty of time.”
JAY HASTINGS – Dakota doorman who was sitting in the office at the time of the shooting. He heard several shots and then the sound of shattering glass. When he went outside after attending to John, he saw the “(s)plintered” office window and blood on the driveway.
JACK HENDERSON – He was a Dakota resident who was in his apartment at the time of the shooting. He reported that he heard “shots” and then ran downstairs where he saw John lying in, “the back office.”
JOHN LENNON – Yelled, “I’m shot!” as he staggered up the stairs to the door of the Dakota office.
GUY LOTHAM – He was in his 10th floor apartment on West 72nd Street across the street from the Dakota at the time of the shooting. He said he heard “shots” and looked out of the window to see two men standing in front of the entryway of the Dakota and they were arguing. What’s interesting in his account is that the entryway is deserted but for two men. The group reported in two accounts, here, does not exist. And yet, of course, other witnesses report there were several people other than Chapman and Jose Perdomo right after the shooting.
JOSEPH MANY – The Dakota elevator operator who was in the basement at the time of shooting. He reported hearing three shots. He went up the elevator to the driveway and saw the scene. He picked up the gun that Jose Perdomo had kicked away from Chapman and returned to the basement. He placed the gun in the drawer of his desk. A NYPD officer named Blake later retrieved the gun.
ELLIOT MINTZ – He arrived at the Dakota several hours after the shooting to help out Yoko Ono. He saw, “broken glass…and John’s blood on the cement…”
YOKO ONO – She was walking ahead of John at the time of the shooting and ran into the courtyard. She reported to the police “shots” and saw Chapman standing on the west side of the entryway.
NINA (last name unknown) – She was walking on the sidewalk in front of the Dakota at the time and witnessed the actual shooting. She reported neither a number of shots or Chapman’s location. She spoke to Chapman after the shooting and he told her, “I’d go away if I were you.”
JOSE PERDOMO – He was the Dakota doorman standing on the east side of the entryway at the time of the shooting. He reported no number of shots and saw Chapman standing on his side of the entryway. He argued with Chapman after the shooting and kicked the gun away.
RICHARD PETERSON – He was a cab driver in his cab on West 72nd Street behind John and Yoko’s limousine at the time of the shooting. He reported three or four shots and saw Chapman on the east side of the entryway. He witnessed the shooting and said that John was hit, “twice in the back.”
JEFF SMITH – He was a Dakota resident who was in his apartment at the time of shooting. He reported hearing five shots.
MAURY SOLOMAN – He was a Dakota resident who was in his apartment at the time of shooting. He reported hearing five shots and went downstairs to the office. He noticed “holes” in the glass office door and went outside in time to see Chapman turning around with a strange look on his face.
STEVE SPIRO – He was one of two NYPD officers who arrived at the Dakota in the first patrol car after the shooting. While he was arresting Chapman (his partner having gone inside the Dakota office) he felt that others were involved in the shooting. “I (saw) two males to my left and used suspect as shield.” Within moments he felt he was wrong as the doorman yelled that Chapman was the only one involved. Spiro reported, “at least three bullet holes in the glass doors” to the office.
SEAN STRUB – He was walking down the block east of the Dakota at the time of shooting. He claimed at one point to have witnessed the shooting, but another report had him around the block at the time of the shooting. He reported hearing four shots and claimed that Chapman was on the east side of the entryway. “He just walked up and shot him…” He also was interviewed on television outside the Roosevelt Hospital where the mortally wounded John had been taken.
FRANKLYN WELSH – He was a visitor to the Dakota, paying his cab fare to Richard Peterson, at the time of the shooting. Thus he had his back to the shooting. He reported hearing four shots and turned in time to see Jose Perdomo kick the gun away from Chapman.