RFK's last words as he lay dying on the floor of
in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968
Robert Kennedy was assassinated just after midnight at
the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles following a victory speech for
the California Primary on June 5, 1968.
He spoke to an enthusiastic crowd and then exited the stage through
a door that led to the hotel service hallway, a short cut to where
the press were waiting in the nearby Colonial Room. Ace Security guard
Thane Eugene Cesar took the senators right elbow and led him through
the doors of the hallway into the serving area behind Maitred Karl
Uecker. When the shots rang out, Uecker grabbed the shooter's arm and
pinned him against a steam table, quickly joined by Rosey Grier and
Busboy Juan Romero knelt beside Kennedy and
him gave rosary beads. He heard RFK ask, "Is
everybody all right?" Indeed five other
people had been wounded. The first doctor on the scene was Stanley
Abo; feeling for a wound, he discovered a hole behind and below Kennedy's
right ear. Kennedy was rushed to Central Receiving
Hospital eighteen blocks away, but quickly transferred to Good Samaritan
Hospital where two additional wounds were discovered. Surgery was
performed to remove blood clots and metal fragments from his brain
to no avail; Bobby Kennedy died from the effects of an assassins bullet the next
All three television
networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) began coverage at the scene just minutes
after the shooting.
A photograph of Robert Kennedy
lying on the floor was immediately televised as reporters announced in
voice-overs that he had been shot by an unknown assailant. About two hours
after the shooting, additional footage was shown of RFK from behind as
he stepped up to the podium and spoke to the crown of supporters. Early on the morning
of 6 June, a news conference was held to announce Robert Kennedy's death. His
funeral was televised on 7 June.
The shooter was later identified as Sirhan
Sirhan, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem who had emigrated to the United
States when he was twelve. When motive for the shooting was sought,
Kennedy's support for Israel in the June 1967 Six-Day War was suggested
based upon an article found on Sirhan's person.
After Sirhan's arrest, his
handwritten personal journals and diaries were discovered. Most of
the entries were incoherent and repetitive, yet there was one entry
that clearly expressed "RFK must die". However, Sirhan's
diary had entries focusing on killing Robert Kennedy dated before
Kennedy's support of Israel became public knowledge. Therefore, using
the June 1967 Six-Day War as motive seemed hallow.
Investigations revealed Sirhan Sirhan
was fascinated with the occult, particularly the practice of hypnosis
and mind control. Sirhan has always maintained, even under repeated
attempts at intensive hypnosis, that he has no memory of the crime.
In the 1990s, Sirhan proposed the theory that he had been brainwashed
- suggesting he was truly a "Manchurian Candidate".
Powder burns on Kennedy's clothing reveal that all three of his wounds
were from a gun fired from 0 to 1-1/2 inches away. And yet, all witnesses
claim that Sirhan, who was in front of Kennedy, never got closer
than three feet away.
Sirhan's gun could hold only eight bullets. Seven bullets were
removed from victims, an eighth bullet was traced through two ceilings
into airspace, and two more bullets were identified as lodged in
the door frame of the pantry by both LAPD and FBI personnel.
Three bullets were found in Robert Kennedy,
and a fourth grazed his suit jacket. The upward angle of each trajectory
was close to 80 degrees. And yet, all witnesses claim Sirhan's gun was
completely horizontal for his first two shots, after which his gun
hand was repeatedly slammed against the top of a steam table.
All four shots;
the fatal penetration to the brain, the shot that passed through
the right shoulder pad of the Senator's coat, and two additional
bullets that entered Kennedy's body were all fired from the back
and all produced powder residue patterns which indicated that they
were all fired from a distance of only a few inches. Since RFK
was walking towards Sirhan, and his body was always facing Sirhan
during the shots even as he fell backwards it is impossible these
shots originated from Sirhan's weapon.
The results of the 1968 test firing of Sirhan's gun were missing.
The test gun used for ballistics comparison and identification
Over 90% of the audio taped witness testimony was lost or destroyed.
Of the 3470 interviews the LAPD conducted, only 301 were preserved.
On August 21, 1968, 2400 photographs from the original investigation
were burned, in the medical-waste incinerator at LA County General
January 31 1969
Diary entry: "RFK must die"
May 16 1968
Diary entry: "My determination to
eliminate RFK is becoming more of an unshakable obsession."
June 1 1968
Purchases two boxes, .22 hollow point
June 4 1968
Waits in the kitchen for RFK, then
fires a gun repeatedly at the Senator
April 17 1969
A jury finds Sirhan Sirhan guilty of
the RFK assassination