DALLAS (Reuters) - Forty-eight years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, police on Tuesday honored a former Dallas shoe store worker who provided a key tip allowing them to apprehend suspect Lee Harvey Oswald.
Johnny Calvin Brewer, now living in Austin, received the Citizens Certificate of Merit for his help to police on the day Kennedy was shot dead while visiting Dallas.
Lt. Scott Walton said police did not deliberately overlook Brewer’s role for nearly half a century.
“We didn’t know about it until a researcher presented us with the information recently,” Walton said. “We did decide to wait until November 22 because it is anniversary of the assassination.”
Police said Brewer was working at a shoe store in the area of Dallas known as Oak Cliff and listening to news of the assassination on the radio. A manhunt for the unidentified assassin was underway when Brewer noticed that a suspicious man had stepped into the store’s foyer.
Moments before the man arrived, Brewer had heard on the radio that Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit had been shot and killed near the shoe store.
The suspicious man walked away from the store toward the nearby Texas Theater. Brewer followed him into the theater and asked the clerk to alert police. Brewer stayed at the theater until police arrived and then pointed out the man to officers.
Oswald was arrested and taken into custody. He was shot and killed two days later, while in police custody, by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
The Citizens Certificate of Merit recognizes “unselfish devotion to fellow man,” Walton said.
“Mr. Johnny Calvin Brewer’s actions on November 22, 1963, were heroic,” police said in a statement. “At no time did he concern himself with the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald may be armed and possibly involved in the murder of a police officer.”
Brewer’s “outstanding observation skills and his quick action” were worthy of this award, which is presently rarely and only to very deserving individuals, Walton said.
Editing by Greg McCune