To understand the assassination, it helps to look at a timeline of events. And to really get down to the bottom of why so many conspiracy theories exist, you need to start well before Nov. 22, 1963.
Five months before his visit to Texas, Kennedy met with Vice President Johnson and John B. Connally Jr., governor of Texas. The purpose of the visit was to bolster Kennedy's popularity in Texas and to present a unified party front in the state. Governor Connally had been feuding with Senator Richard Yarborough. Both men were Democrats, as was Kennedy. Kennedy hoped that by touring the state with both men, he could help unify the party and increase his chances of being re-elected in 1964.
On Nov. 8, 1963, the Secret Service learned of the proposed route from Love Field, where the president's plane would land on the 22nd, to the site of a political luncheon. On November 18, the White House approved the route. On November 19, Dallas papers publicized the route.
When the president arrived at Love Field, he took a seat in the presidential limousine. He was joined by the First Lady, Governor Connally, Connally's wife and two Secret Service agents. Other cars carrying more Secret Service agents, Senator Yarborough and Vice President Johnson followed. They began their route at 11:50 a.m. to the luncheon site, which was just beyond Dealey Plaza.
The motorcade entered Dealey Plaza a few minutes behind schedule after the president stopped to greet friendly crowds. At approximately 12:30 p.m., the assassin fired the first shot. At least two more shots followed. One shot missed the motorcade -- there's still a debate concerning which of the shots missed. One shot hit the president at the base of his neck. The bullet traveled through his neck and out through the base of his throat. Another shot hit the president in the back of his head. This was the fatal bullet. The assassin had fired three shots in just a few seconds -- estimates range from around four to eight seconds.
The presidential limousine immediately rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, which was four miles (6.4 kilometers) away. Medical staff attempted to save the president's life, but doctors pronounced John F. Kennedy dead at 1 p.m.