Assassination Attempts: Harry S Truman, President of the U.S. Part 1

About the assassination attempt by Harry S Truman President of the United States, history of the attempt by Collazo and Torresola.

The Victim: HARRY S TRUMAN, 33rd President of the U.S.

The Date: November 1, 1950.

The Event: While the White House was being remodeled, President Truman was making extensive use of Blair House, a 4-story Georgian mansion located across the street. The yellow brick building was set back from the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk by a narrow yard, a hedge, and an iron fence. A sentry box stood at each end of the facade. Ten steps led up to the front door.

President Truman was asleep in a front room on the 2nd floor. The afternoon of November 1 was warm and clear. A short distance away, in the Harris Hotel, 2 American citizens from Puerto Rico, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, were making final preparations for their assault on the Chief Executive. Collazo, who had not fired a gun since childhood, awkwardly aimed his Walther P-38 automatic in the quiet hotel room. The 2 men set out for Blair House with 69 rounds of ammunition between them. They hoped to shoot their way inside and catch Truman in an office or a hallway.

The main door was wide open; only a flimsy screen door stood between the sidewalk and the President. The 2 Puerto Ricans separated and approached the entrance from opposite directions. Donald Birdzell, a Secret Service agent, was standing at the bottom of the front stairs. A guard (Joe Davidson) and another agent (Floyd Boring) were conversing in the east sentry booth, and a single guard (Leslie Coffelt) was stationed in the west booth.

Collazo advanced from the east. He reached Birdzell, who was facing the other way, drew his gun, and pulled the trigger. No explosion. At the sound of the click, Birdzell turned around. He saw a well-dressed Latin man holding a Walther P-38 automatic against his chest and beating it with his left hand. The gun then went off accidentally, and the bullet struck Birdzell in the leg. This was the only one of Collazo's 9 shots that hit a target. Birdzell dashed out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Collazo, assuming that the agent was fleeing, turned and started up the 10 stairs. As Davidson and Boring opened fire from the east booth, Birdzell turned and shot from the street. Davidson and Boring were both excellent marksmen, but their line of fire was obstructed by the hedge and the iron fence. Collazo crouched on the 2nd step and returned the fire. His nose was grazed, then an ear. A bullet passed through his hat without touching him.

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