- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 29, 2005

DALLAS — The Dallas police officer who captured Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas Theater the day President Kennedy was assassinated, died Thursday in an Arkansas hospital.

Maurice N. “Nick” McDonald, 76, died of complications from diabetes at National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs, Ark. He had lived there since retiring in 1980 from the Dallas Police Department after a 25-year career.

Officer McDonald arrived at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, moments after Mr. Kennedy was shot. He was one of a score of police officers who converged on the Texas Theater after a tip from a local store manager that a suspicious, furtive man had entered the complex.

Several officers snaked down the aisles from the front, toward where Oswald sat alone, unaware the suspect was still armed. Officer McDonald was the first to enter the area, approaching from the aisle in front of Oswald.

“As soon as I got to him,” he said that afternoon, “I told him, ‘Get on your feet. Let’s see your hands.’” He recalled Oswald’s response, “Well it’s all over now.” Oswald then immediately shot a hard left jab to Officer McDonald’s head.

The officer then saw Oswald reaching with his right hand into his pocket and though somewhat stunned, grabbed that hand, gripping the chamber so that the gun wouldn’t fire.

By that time four or five other officers joined the melee, pinning Oswald in the seats and pulling the gun away from the shooter. Officer McDonald thought the gun had misfired, but what he heard was the click of the gun and had felt the firing pin cut into his hand.

The Warren Commission, the panel in charge of investigating the Kennedy assassination, later determined that there had been no misfire.

In the months following, Officer McDonald made much of his role and somewhat alienated the others who had helped wrestle the gun away. He sold interviews, wrote his memoirs, “The Arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald,” and had business cards printed: “The Man Who Captured Oswald.”

“He obviously didn’t make any friends with his self-serving attitude,” former FBI Agent Robert Gemberling said recently.

Mr. Gemberling, who handled much of the local investigation for the bureau at the time, added: “Had not at least three officers subdued Oswald as McDonald was reeling and stunned, there seems little doubt Mr. McDonald would have been a dead hero.”

The retired officer was born in Camden, Ark., graduated from high school there and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

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