The murder of Robert F. Kennedy, only two months after that of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., marked 1968 as a year of unusual violence and uncertainty. The presidential candidate died 26 hours after the assault. His assassin, a Palestinian immigrant named Sirhan B. Sirhan, was sentenced to death for the murder. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison, where he remains. An excerpt from The Post of June 5, 1968:
From News Dispatches
LOS ANGELES, June 5 (Wednesday) -- Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the assassinated President John F. Kennedy, was shot early today minutes after he claimed his victory in the California primary.
He was pronounced in critical condition at Central Receiving Hospital from three wounds -- two in the head and one in the hip.
At 4 a.m. (EDT) he was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church. Later Kennedy was transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital.
The shooting at the Ambassador Hotel turned the Kennedy victory celebration into a scene of horror and pandemonium.
Kennedy was reportedly conscious and talking after being struck by the series of shots. Almost immediately after the shooting a young man of Latin appearance in dungarees was seen being taken into custody. ...
A priest, near the scene of the shooting, said he approached the fallen Senator. "I gave him the rosary and he clenched it tightly and I was pushed away. There was blood on his head."
Kennedy's wife, Ethel, expecting her 11th child, knelt by her husband before he was taken to the hospital. Her face was masked with shock.
The California victor had just left the ballroom of the Ambassador and was walking along a service corridor outside the kitchen. There was a normal crush of reporters, photographers and spectators.
At least five shots were fired, according to eyewitnesses, by a man who had been standing by a service cart.
After he was struck, Kennedy lay in a pool of blood while efforts were made to find a doctor. His brother-in-law, Stephen Smith, stood on the podium of the ballroom shouting for a doctor.
A bus boy reported that Kennedy gasped at one point. "Is everybody okay? Is everybody okay?"
Negro Olympic star Rafer Johnson and Los Angeles Ram tackle Roosevelt Grier, both of whom had been campaigning with Kennedy, reportedly seized the assailant. ...
The assailant was described as an olive-skinned man of about 25. One witness said that he heard the gunman "shout something about saving the country." ...
The shooting and ensuing bedlam was reported on live television. ...
There were cries of "Kill him! Lynch him!" as some in the crowd tried to grapple for the assailant. Kennedy's bodyguard, William Barry, and Grier shielded the suspect from the crowd.
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