Senator Robert F. Kennedy Assassination
FBI - Los Angeles County District Attorney Files
14,321 pages of FBI and Los Angeles County District Attorney files, covering the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan was born on March 19, 1944, in Jerusalem, Palestine. Sirhan was the fifth son of Bishara and Muzher (Mary) Sirhan. When Sirhan was twelve, his family received visas to enter the United States as Palestinian refugees.
On the evening of June 2, 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy had given a speech at the Palm Terrace Room of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Prior to the Senator's speech on the evening of June 2, William Blurae, who had worked as a stock boy in a liquor store located next door to an organic health food store where Sirhan Sirhan had worked the few months previous to that date, says he observed Sirhan in the lobby area adjacent to the Palm Terrace Room. Mrs. Miriam Davis, a hostess for the Kennedy event that night, was walking around the hotel twenty minutes after the speech when she says she observed Sirhan seated in the kitchen area. After the Senator's speech on June 2, Kennedy had passed through the kitchen area.
On the morning of June 4, 1968, California primary election day, Sirhan signed in at the San Gabriel Valley Gun Club located on Fish Canyon Road in Duarte. He wrote "Sirhan Sirhan" and the address 696 East Howard Street, Pasadena, on the roster. After Sirhan had fired awhile on the shooting range, he told the range master, Edward Buckner, "I want the best box of shells you have, and I want some that will not misfire. I got to have some that will not misfire," according to Buckner. Buckner then sold Sirhan a box of shells, and Sirhan resumed shooting, engaging in rapid fire shooting, using a .22 revolver, remaining on the range till 5:00 p.m.
Earlier in the year, Sirhan had had a conversation with Alvin Clark, a trash collector employed by the City of Pasadena. According to Clark, Sirhan had expressed his concern about how the assassination of Martin Luther King
Jr. would effect "Negro people and how the Negroes would vote in the coming election." Clark testified at trial that he told Sirhan he was going to vote for Senator Kennedy and Sirhan responded by saying, "What do you want to vote for that son-of-a-b for? Because I'm planning on shooting him." Clark then told Sirhan that Senator Kennedy had paid the expenses of bringing Martin Luther King's body back from Tennessee and that, "you will be killing one of the best men in the country." Clark remembered that Sirhan stated that Senator Kennedy had done this merely for the publicity involved, and that this conversation had occurred in mid-April, 1968.
On the evening of the election, June 4, an hour or two prior to Senator Kennedy's speech in the Embassy Ballroom, a member of the Senator's staff, Judy Royer, observed Sirhan in the area to the rear of the Embassy Ballroom stage. Because Sirhan was not wearing a press badge or staff badge he was asked to leave, and he turned and walked toward the doors leading out to the Embassy Ballroom. Shortly before midnight, as Senator Kennedy took the service elevator down to the pantry area in the rear of the Embassy Ballroom, Jesus Perez, a kitchen helper at the Ambassador, and Martin Petrusky, a waiter, observed Senator Kennedy as he passed through the pantry on the way to the Embassy Ballroom, where about 500 people awaited his speech. Both kitchen personnel observed Sirhan in the pantry at this time. Sirhan inquired whether Senator Kennedy would be "coming back through this way." Both hotel employees replied that they did not know, and testified that Sirhan remained in the area of the pantry close to Perez at the corner of a serving table.
On June 4, 1968, Kennedy scored a major victory in his drive toward the Democratic presidential nomination when he won primaries in South Dakota and in California. He addressed his supporters in the early morning hours in the Embassy Ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel. Upon concluding his address at approximately 12:15 a.m. (June 5). Senator Kennedy was escorted off the platform toward the Colonial Room, where he was to meet the press. Karl Uecker, assistant Maitre d' at the Ambassador Hotel, led the Senator through the pantry area behind the Embassy Ballroom.
In the pantry area, Senator Kennedy stopped and shook hands with some of the kitchen workers, including Perez and Petrusky. At that time Sirhan appeared and began to fire his .22 caliber revolver at Senator Kennedy. Several shots were fired in rapid succession. Uecker attempted to grab the weapon from Sirhan, and Senator Kennedy fell to the floor of the pantry.
A struggle ensued as those present attempted to immobilize and disarm Sirhan. Roosevelt Grier, Rafer Johnson, George Plimpton, Jess Unruh, and other members of Kennedy's entourage arrived seconds later. Later that night Rafer Johnson turned the weapon over to the LAPD., and it was booked into the property division.
While Sirhan was being held in the pantry awaiting the arrival of the Los Angeles Police Department, Rafer Johnson asked Sirhan repeatedly, "Why did you do it?" Sirhan is reported to have replied, "Let me explain" or "I can explain." At this time Sirhan also remarked in answer to Jess Unruh's question "Why him?", "I did it for my country," and a few seconds later, "It is too late".
Upon his arrival at Central Receiving Hospital that night, Robert Kennedy had been totally inert and was not breathing, although he did have an oxygen mask over his face. Dr. V. Faustin Bazilauskas, the attending physician, felt no heartbeat and administered an external cardiac massage. Senator Kennedy's breathing, pulse, and heartbeat resumed within a few minutes. After an adrenalin injection ,the Senator's condition rapidly improved. The medical staff then began to attend also to the five other victims. Half an hour after Senator Kennedy's arrival at the emergency hospital, his condition had stabilized sufficiently to permit his transportation to Good Samaritan Hospital, two blocks away, where he could be examined by a neurosurgeon and a chest surgeon.
Surgery was performed, but Senator Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m., on June 6, 1968. Dr. Thomas Noguchi, Coroner and Chief Medical Examiner of Los Angeles County and two deputy medical examiners, performed an autopsy on Senator Kennedy's body between 3:00 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., on June 6. It was disclosed that the gunshot wound to the head, in the right mastoid, had penetrated the brain and was the cause of death. The bullet had fractured the skull and had itself been shattered. According to Dr. Noguchi, powder burns on the right ear indicated that the muzzle distance between the weapon and the ear at the time of the firing was 1 to 1-1/2 inches.
On April 23, 1969, Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death in California's gas chamber. The death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972, after the California Supreme Court ,in its People v. Anderson decision, invalidated all pending death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972.
14,184 pages of FBI files dating from May 1968 to November 1978.
Included among the many topics covered in the files regarding the assassination of Robert Kennedy are: The confusion during the aftermath of the shooting. Statements phoned into the FBI by the public after the shooting of Robert Kennedy. Interviews with witnesses and members of Robert Kennedy's party. Attention to Sirhan's brother. Ethel Kennedy's desire to not be interviewed by the FBI or LAPD. A chronology of events. Interviews of Dr. Stanley Abo, who first attended to Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Alleged statement made by Sirhan in the Golden Garter Bar, Alhambra, California, in Late May 1968, "We will wait till he gets into town and then we will get him." Investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department, at Good Samaritan Hospital. Investigation of the "Woman in the Polka-dot Dress." Investigation concerning alleged statement between two unknown males speaking in Arabic at Robert Kennedy's headquarters on June 3, 1968, in Los Angeles, heard as, "Well, we didn't catch up with him last night, but we will tonight." Notebooks found in Sirhan Sirhan's room, that included entries such as, "May 18, 9:45 a.m. 1968 My determination to eliminate R.F.K. is becoming more and more of an unshakable obsession... R.F.K. must die... R.F.K. must be killed... Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated before 5 June 68..." A 1971 report by Los Angeles District Attorney Joseph P. Busch concerning allegations of improper procedures by Los Angeles Police Department criminalist DeWayne Wolfer in the Sirhan case.
Other topics covered in the reports, memos, and telegrams include: Arrest and confinement of Sirhan Sirhan. Search of Sirhan's room. Tracking of the gun used in the shooting. Investigation concerning alleged purchases of ammunition by Sirhan at Lock, Stock and Barrel Gun Shop, San Gabriel, California. Background, education, employment, associates, and acquaintances of Sirhan Sirhan. Background of Sirhan's family. Interviews of members of Sirhan's family. Interviews of individuals in the area of the shooting. Other victims of the shooting. Interviews of individuals registered as guests at the Ambassador Hotel. Physical evidence taken into custody. Interview of employees of the Ambassador Hotel. The transportation of Senator Kennedy's ambulance to Central Receiving Hospital. Investigation of Sirhan's activity at the San Gabriel Valley Gun Club. Neighborhood investigation in Pasadena, California. Prosecutive actions concerning the Sirhan case. Records from the Pasadena Police Department.
Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office SPECIAL COUNSEL Report on the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy
In March 1977, Thomas F. Kranz, the Special Counsel to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, published a 137 page report concerning his findings regarding a review of the investigation of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. This report presents observations and conclusions of the Special Counsel appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on August 12, 1975 to investigate independently the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. It covers the chronology, history, and narrative of facts of the trial, investigations, and ballistic hearings. The report addresses conspiracy theories.
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