Everyone has heard about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But what most people do not realise is that his brother Bobby was also assassinated in 1968. 5 years after the JFK assassination.
Robert Kennedy had been at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. He had been celebrating his victory in the Californian presidential primaries and was undoubtedly set to become the 37th President of the United States.
Kennedy’s killer was found in the pantry of the hotel with a smoking gun. He was thought to have been a deranged, lone assassin. Thousands of mourners stood in silence as his funeral train slowly crossed America.
Imminently after the shooting the police arrested Sirhan Sirhan, a young Palestinian. There were many witnesses who saw Sirhan shoot Bobby. Because he had been caught with a smoking gun and how good the witnesses were, it was an open-shut case. Within hours the Mayor of Los Angeles announced the identity of the assassin.
There were 76 people in the pantry that night. All of their evidence flatly contradicts the official version. Every single eye witness insisted that Sirhan Sirhan had always been in front of Kennedy and at least six feet away. Yet, the shots that killed Kennedy were fired from point blank range into the back of his head.
Bobby was the academic of the Kennedy family. Graduating from Harvard with a degree in Law, but in 1959 he abandoned Law to run JFK’s campaign to win the presidency. Bobby ran a brilliant and sometimes ruthless campaign, which ensured his brother entered the White House the following year.
After the JFK assassination in 1963, Bobby’s wilderness years began. He became convinced that America should withdraw from Vietnam. In his presidential bid, removing troops from Vietnam became a priority. He spelled it out in his final interview, minutes before he was shot.
At a little before midnight, the return showed a clear victory for Bobby. For workers and supporters, it was a time of celebration. After Kennedy delivered his speech at the Ambassador Hotel, he was scheduled to go to a press conference in the Claudia room beyond the the pantry.
As they headed through the pantry, Bobby stopped to shake hands with a couple of kitchen workers. It was at this point that Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy and injured others. One witness said that the last words of Bobby Kennedy was “Is everyone alright?”.
Within hours of the arrest of Sirhan Sirhan, the LAPD discovered an apparent motive for the assassination. They found notes at Sirhan’s apartment containing threats to kill Kennedy because of his support for Israel in his war against the Arabs. They also discovered that Sirhan had been seen earlier on the day of the shooting acting suspiciously. Sirhan had spent hours rapid firing into targets at the San Gabriel Valley Gun Club.
Later, he was spotted at the Ambassador Hotel, where Kennedy was celebrating. Security to the hotel was provided by a private security company. Los Angeles police had told its officers to stay away from the hotel. With no police guarding the hotel, Sirhan was easily able to slip into the kitchen pantry while concealing a revolver.
According to the LAPD, as Bobby walked through the pantry shaking hands with kitchen workers, Sirhan stepped from behind a steam table and pointed his gun at Kennedy. Five other people were injured that night. All had been walking behind Bobby Kennedy. The people wounded were taken to the Good Samaritans Hospital in downtown Los Angeles.
Robert Kennedy died at 01:44 in the morning of the 6th June 1968. The next morning a careful cross examination of the scene of the shooting began. The forensics expert was LAPD’s Chief Criminalist, Dwayne Wolfer. Within hours he drew up a complicated trajectory diagram, accounting for all 8 bullets which showed how they killed Bobby Kennedy and wounded 5 other people.
Bullet one entered Kennedy’s head behind the right ear, bullet two entered Kennedy’s right rear shoulder approximately seven inches below the top of the shoulder and was lodged in his spine. Bullet three entered Kennedy’s right rear back, approximately one inch to the right of bullet two. This bullet travelled upward and forward and exited from Kennedy’s chest. It then passed through a ceiling tile and was lost somewhere in the ceiling interspace. Bullet four passed through the shoulder pad of Kennedy’s blazer, never entering his body. The bullet travelled upward, striking Paul Schrade in the centre of his forehead. Bullet five struck Ira Goldstein in the left rear buttock. Bullet six passed through Goldstein’s trousers, ricocheted of the cement floor and hit Irwin Stroll in the left leg. Bullet seven hit William Weisel in the abdomen. Bullet eight struck the plaster ceiling and then struck Mary Evans in the head.
But just like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, there is a second gunman theory. Los Angeles police dismissed or ignored these discrepancies. During the trial of Sirhan Sirhan, his defence lawyer may have helped put these theories to rest by never bringing it up. He even cut short the autopsy evidence which would of proved Sirhan could not have killed Kennedy. Instead he persuaded Sirhan to admit the shooting but plead diminished responsibility as he could as could remember nothing about it.
a major discrepancy in the evidence was the distance between Sirhan and Kennedy. The autopsy showed that the shots that hit Kennedy were fired from the distance of no more than 3 inches. but a key witness who was with Kennedy as he was shot insists that Sirhan’s gun, never got that close to Kennedy.
The LAPD filmed a number of reconstructions of the assassination. but the key witness said that the closet the gun ever got to Kennedy was approximately one foot. The reconstructions have been kept under lock and key since 1969 and the LAPD have never acknowledged their existence. A second key witness said that Sirhan was approximately 3 feet away from Bobby Kennedy.
The official reconstruction shows that Sirhan was always in front of Bobby Kennedy. This is supported by all the key eyewitnesses. They all insisted that Sirhan was always in front of Kennedy. Yet the autopsy said that the shots that killed Kennedy were fired from behind. So how could Sirhan have been in the position to shoot Bobby?
a downfall to the LAPD’s evidence is the bullet trajectory, which was drawn up by Dwayne Wolfer. Bullet eight, which he said struck Mary Evans in the head on a downward ricochet, never happened. Mary Evans medical report states that she was quite clearly hit by a bullet travelling upwards.
The FBI found another major discrepancy in the LAPD case. In the centre divider its scene of crime officers found two point two calibre bullet holes. The FBI paper work shows they found 4 extra bullets in the woodwork, which makes the total of bullets fired 12. Which means if there was more than eight bullets in the pantry, there had to have been a second gunman.
But despite all the discrepancies and evidence, Sirhan Sirhan was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison. He has never been able to remember anything about the assassination. not even the dark haired woman in the polka dot dress, seen with him by 11 other witnesses in the ambassador hotel that night.
Today, Sirhan Sirhan is still held in Soledad High Security Prison.