November 1, 1950 | Truman Assassination Thwarted

 Secret Service Agent Floyd Boring stands guard outside the Blair House while Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Collazolieslies wounded at his feet.

“Hell, no, I got through two and half years of shooting in Europe without getting hit and I’ll be damned if I was going to get it on Pennsylvania Avenue!”

—Bystander on whether or not he considered jumping into the action at Blair House, 1950

President Harry Truman was napping on the second floor of the Blair House—his temporary executive mansion while the White House was being renovated—when two Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to break through the Secret Service and White House Police security perimeters. Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo approached the building from opposite directions and immediately began firing.

In the intense firefight that followed, about 30 shots were exchanged before Torresola was killed and Collazo wounded. White House Police Officer Leslie Coffelt was mortally wounded by Torresola’s first shots. According to witnesses, a wounded Coffelt steadied himself on the guardhouse and returned fire—shooting and killing Torresola from 10 yards away. Officer Coffelt died a few hours later; two other White House Police Officers were wounded in the fight, but recovered.

President Truman was typically unflappable and stuck with his schedule for the afternoon. Shortly after the attempt he noted to the press, “A president has to expect these things.”