DALLAS — In the pre-dawn darkness Tuesday, a safe just dangled, hanging from a winch in the back of what would have been the blue getaway truck.
A pair of thieves at the Sixth Floor Museum in downtown Dallas plowed into a curb when cornered by the county's armed security guard.
"He ended up shooting, shots were fired at them," said Dallas County Sheriff's spokesman Kim Leach. "They jumped back into the original truck and started coming towards him. He shot at them again. Then the suspects came around the corner... then wrecked out."
It started out as a burglary of the Sixth Floor Museum, which contains more than 35,000 items related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Thieves somehow got inside the building and into a first floor office around 4:30 a.m. They latched the safe to the winch on a stolen pickup truck and pulled it out, cracking the steps outside the front door of what was once the Texas School Book Depository.
All of this should have been captured on the museum's security cameras, but Commissioner John Wiley Price said the system was not working.
"They didn’t cut the wires from the outside," Price said. "They were disengaged."
Price raises lots of questions, like: How would burglars even know there was a safe inside? Or that it held anything worth going through this much trouble to steal?
And perhaps most troubling, were the cameras really disabled from inside the building?
"That's what’s suspicious," Price said. "Its probably an inside job. Got to know where everything is, and the cameras being disengaged."
The sheriff’s office would not comment on any of Price's statements, citing the ongoing investigation.
The suspects were still on the run Tuesday evening.
Investigators and the museum declined to say what the safe contains; only that the entire collection — which includes the only privately-held first-generation print of Abraham Zapruder's film documenting the assassination — is intact and secure.
The Sixth Floor Museum was closed all day Tuesday, but will re-open Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.