Assassination Attempts: Harry S Truman, President of the U.S. Part 2

About the assassination attempt by Harry S Truman President of the United States, biography of would be assassins Collazo and Torresola.

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

Simultaneously, Torresola moved in from the west. He blasted Coffelt, and downed another guard who emerged from a side door. Torresola, an experienced gunman, then turned and took out Birdzell, who was shooting at Collazo from the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Coffelt, fatally injured, nevertheless managed to draw a lethal bead on his assailant. He fired a final bullet into Torresola's brain. Coffelt himself died 3 1/2 hours later. These 2 men were the only participants who did not survive the shootout. Collazo, outgunned, caught a bullet in the chest and fell face down on the sidewalk.

Twenty-seven shots were fired in less than 3 minutes. Collazo's bullet was deflected by his breastbone and he recovered. He was indicted and convicted on 3 charges: the murder of Coffelt, intent to kill the President, and assault with intent to kill 2 guards. Collazo was sentenced to be electrocuted on August 1, 1952.

The Would-Be Assassins: Oscar Collazo was 36 years old at the time of the Blair House incident; Griselio Torresola was 25. Both men were long-standing members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist party, an organization which agitated for the independence of the tiny American Territory. Neither had any record of malfeasance or violence.

Collazo was the more interesting of the 2. He was an extremely mild-mannered family man; a kind, likable, dependable citizen. He educated himself and was a voracious reader of history and literature, specializing in works about the heritage and culture of his native island. Born in Puerto Rico in 1914, Collazo automatically became an American citizen (under the Jones Act) at age 3. His father died when Oscar was a young child, and the family broke up. Oscar lived with an older brother.

He went to New York at age 17 and worked at miscellaneous unskilled jobs, such as dish-washing in the Army and Navy Club. Moving back and forth between New York and Puerto Rico, and always working, Collazo gradually became more active in the independence movement. Eventually, in New York, he settled into a position as a metal polisher. He gave English lessons to his fellow employees, and regularly went down to the docks to meet ships of Puerto Rican immigrants, whom he would orient to the alien and often hostile New York environment.

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