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Presidential Assassination Attempt Unsuccessful

The attempt resulted in the shooting of two White House police officer’s, Leslie Coffelt and Donald Birdzell. However, the President was not harmed.

 Griselio Torresola

 Oscar Collazo and wife

When Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, Decided to assassinate The American President, they pretty much sealed their fate.  The attempt resulted in the shooting of two White House police officer’s Leslie Coffelt  and Donald Birdzell while the President was not harmed.  Griselio Torresola was also killed that day.

November 1, 1950 two Puerto Rican nationalists decided to implement a plan to assassinate President Truman with the intention of bringing world attention to the independence cause of Puerto Rico.  Griselio Torresola  and  Oscar Collazo chose this time to put their plan into action because The white house was under extensive repairs and President Truman was residing at the Blair House While the White House was undergoing renovation. They approached the Guard boothes that were at the entrances to Blair House. Oscar Collazo snuck up behind officer Donald Birdzell and attempted to shoot him in the back but the gun jammed and did not fire.  As Birdzell turned to face the shooter, Collazo managed to fire the weapon and Bridzell was shot in the right knee. Secret Service Agent Floyd Boring and White House Police officer Joseph Davidson heard the shot and opened fire on Collazo with their service revolvers.

 As Collazo approached Donald Birdzell, Griselio Torresola approached a guard booth at the west corner of the Blair House, And shot Private Leslie Coffelt at close range. 4 shots were fired by Torresola.  Three of the shots struck Coffelt in the chest and abdomen The victim slumped back into a chair and died.

White House policeman, Joseph Downs who had just left after chatting with Coffelt, was on his way down the walkway to the basement door at the west end of the Blair-Lee house when he heard shots being fired. Torresola Ran up on Downs and shot him once in the hip before he could draw his weapon. Downs continued towards the house, and was shot twice more by Torresola, once in the back and once in the neck. Asd downs perservered he was able to get to the basement door open it and get inside slamming the door and locking it therefore preventing  Griselio Torresola entry into the Blair House and access to the President.

Griselio Torresola  was killed while trying to reload his weapon as he stood near the bedroom window of President Truman, When  the mortally-wounded Coffelt staggered out of his guard booth, leaned against it, and aimed his revolver at Torresola, Coffelt fired his weapon, hitting Torresola two inches above the ear, killing him instantly. Officer Collfelt was taken to the hospital where he died four hours later.

 At the time that Coffelt shot and killed the would be presidential assassin, President Truman, hearing the gunfire, opened the bedroom window and was looking out to see what was going on.

  A plaque at the Blair House commemorates Coffelt’s sacrifice, heroism, and fidelity to his duty and his country.

The other would be assassin, Oscar Collazo, recovered from his wounds and was tried and sentenced to death. That sentence was later commuted to life by President Truman. Jimmy Carter later commuted this sentence to time served in 1979. Collazo went back to Puerto Rico. He died in 1994.


President Harry Truman

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