Los Angeles (JFK+50) New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, after winning the Democratic California Primary, was shot in the kitchen pantry at the Ambassador Hotel here in Los Angeles 50 years ago today, June 5, 1968.
RFK was the projected winner over Senator Eugene J. McCarthy** of Minnesota. The final tabulation of votes gave him a 46 to 42 percentage victory. The Senator had just spoken to supporters in the hotel's ballroom and left the stage entering the kitchen pantry. The speech concluded at 12:15 a.m. Pacific time.
As RFK walked through the pantry shaking hands with hotel employees, shots rang out. One bullet struck the Senator just behind the right ear and entered the brain. A reporter, speaking into his audio tape recorder, shouted "Senator Kennedy has been shot! Is that possible?"
The assassin, identified as Sirhan Sirhan, was restrained by Kennedy aides and bystanders and was taken into custody by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department.*
Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died on June 6, 1968 at the age of 42.
*Shane O'Sullivan's "Who Killed Bobby? The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy," 2008, argues that many disturbing questions about RFK's death remain unanswered. While Sirhan's pistol held 8 bullets, for example, tests from the only audio recording available made during the shooting suggests that at least 10 shots were fired.
"This new audio evidence seems to vindicate key eyewitnesses like Kennedy aides Paul Schrade and Frank Burns (and others who)...for forty years...have all insisted that Sirhan never got close enough to fire the fatal shot (that hit RFK behind the right ear) described in the autopsy."
"RFK in 1968: a hard struggle against long odds," by Arthur L. Cyr, The Seattle Times, May 28, 2008.
"Who Killed Bobby? The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy," by Shane O'Sullivan, Union Square Press, New York, 2008.