Colonel Withers was backstage before the shooting. There he saw one of the stagehands had left his station. The stagehand, in fact a Booth conspirator, stood ready to shut down the house lights following the assassination. After instructing the man to resume his correct place, Withers was walking back to the stage when he heard the gunshot. Booth then came rushing through the door beneath the stage and grappled briefly with Withers in his struggle to escape.
Withers later testified that Booth wounded him with a knife, pushed him aside, and then "[Booth] jerked the stage door open and closed it after him, but before he closed it I saw the head of a horse and Peanut John [a boy who worked at the theater] holding the bridle." Withers' testimony identifying Booth is said to have been the first accurate description of Booth that the police received.