Raymond Lee Harvey

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Raymond Lee Harvey was an Ohio-born unemployed American drifter. He was arrested by the Secret Service after being found carrying a starter pistol with blank rounds, ten minutes before President Jimmy Carter was to give a speech at the Civic Center Mall in Los Angeles on May 5, 1979.

Although he had a history of mental illness,[1] police investigated his claims that he was part of a four-man operation to assassinate the president. He claimed that he had been approached by three Latino men staying at the Alan Hotel who gave him the starter pistol, and asked him to shoot it into the ground to create a diversion, so they could then shoot the president from their hotel room during the distraction.[2] According to Harvey, he fired seven blank rounds from the starter pistol on the hotel roof on the night of May 4, to test how much noise it would make. He then spent the night in a room taken by one of the men, whom he knew as "Julio", but who was later identified as a 21-year-old illegal Mexican alien who gave the name Osvaldo Espinoza Ortiz.[1] At the time of his arrest, Harvey had eight spent rounds in his pocket, as well as 70 unspent blank rounds for the gun.[3]

The names "Lee Harvey" and "Osvaldo" (Osvaldo is the Spanish equivalent to "Oswald") drew comparisons to Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President John F. Kennedy. This led conspiracy theorists to claim that the incident was set up to scare Carter into submission.[4][5] Although originally dismissed as "a tale spun by an intoxicated man,"[6] police investigating the claims found a room in the Alan Hotel rented under the name "Umberto Camacho," the name of an alleged conspirator given by Ortiz, containing a shotgun case and three unspent rounds of ammunition. The occupant had checked out of the hotel room the day of the alleged assassination attempt.[1]

Harvey was jailed on a $50,000 bond, given his transient status, and Ortiz was alternately reported as being held on a $100,000 bond as a material witness[1] or held on a $50,000 bond being charged with burglary from a car.[3] Charges against the pair were ultimately dismissed for a lack of evidence.[7]

His age at the time of the event has been alternately given as 34[8] or 35.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Skid Row Plot: A scheme to kill Carter?" Time 21 May 1979.
  2. ^ "The Plot to Kill Carter." Newsweek 21 May 1979.
  3. ^ a b "Alleged Carter death plot: man charged." Sydney Morning Herald 10 May 1979.
  4. ^ Carter Assassination Attempt - TinWiki.org
  5. ^ Lee Harvey and Osvaldo Conspiracy | AlienZoo.com
  6. ^ UPI (May 12, 1979). "Reported Carter-Assassination Plot Given Credibility by New Evidence; Arrest Despite Disbelief". New York Times. p. 19.
  7. ^ Harvey / Carter Assassination Plot CBS News broadcast from the Vanderbilt Television News Archive
  8. ^ "Carter Plot Alleged". Sydney Morning Herald. May 9, 1979.