Nick McDonald, 76; Officer Arrested Oswald After Kennedy Shooting
Nick McDonald, 76, the policeman who arrested Lee Harvey Oswald at a Dallas movie theater after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, died Thursday at a Hot Springs, Ark., hospital of complications from diabetes.
McDonald arrived at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza moments after Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963. Later that day, he searched the Texas Theater and helped make the historic arrest, grappling with the man suspected of shooting Kennedy after Oswald pulled a gun.
By then, Oswald had shot another Dallas officer dead in a confrontation.
“He made a fist and bam -- hit me right between the eyes,” McDonald recalled years afterward. “Knocked my hat off. I came back and hit him.”
It wasn’t until later in the day that McDonald realized whom he had captured.
In a memoir, “The Arrest and Capture of Lee Harvey Oswald,” McDonald recalled going to the rear of the theater after police received a tip that a suspicious man had entered without paying. McDonald and another officer confronted Oswald, who said, “Well, it’s all over now.”
As police tried to search and handcuff him, Oswald pulled a pistol and tried to fire, but McDonald grabbed the weapon and moved to block the trigger with his hand.
“I could feel the hammer glide under my hand,” McDonald wrote. “The returning hammer made a dull, audible snapping sound as the firing pin struck the flesh of my left hand, between the thumb and forefinger.
“Bracing myself, I stood rigid, waiting for the bullet to penetrate my chest.”
But the bullet didn’t fire.
McDonald jerked the weapon from Oswald, fell on top of him and finally subdued him.
Born March 21, 1928, in Camden, Ark., he graduated from Camden High School, served in the Navy and was a Korean War veteran.
After the military, McDonald served 25 years with the Dallas Police Department, retiring as a sergeant and moving to Hot Springs in 1980.