“Now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there”
When his brother was elected president in 1961, Bobby Kennedy became Attorney General. Kennedy remained in his job under President Johnson for ten months but resigned to become senator from New York. On 16 March 1968 Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency. Bobby Kennedy spent the day of Tuesday 4 June 1968 relaxing and having fun with his family at the Malibu home of John Frankenheimer as he waited for the results of the California primary. Kennedy went to the Ambassador Hotel and at 11.40pm the news broke that Kennedy had unexpectedly won.
His party went down to the Embassy Ballroom where he made a brief speech thanking the campaign team, “We are a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country, and I intend to make that my basis for running over the period of the next few month,” ending with a V-sign and the words, “and now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there.” Kennedy’s group headed towards the pantry.
Assistant maitre d’hôtel Karl Uecker moved in front of Kennedy and Thane Eugene Cesar, 26, a part-time bodyguard from Ace Security, was following. Kennedy shook hands with kitchen staff as he walked.
Suddenly a young man moved from the vicinity of the ice machine toward the steam table where Kennedy was shaking hands. The young man brushed past photographer Virginia Guy, his gun chipping one of her teeth. At 12.15am, he pulled an Iver-Johnson Cadet .22-calibre revolver from the waistband of his jeans, shouted, “Kennedy, you son of a bitch”, and fired eight rounds. The shooter, Sirhan Sirhan, was grabbed and restrained by Uecker, the writer George Plimpton, the Olympic gold medalist decathlete, Rafer Johnson and the professional football player Rosey Grier. Kennedy and five other people were hit. The police arrived to take away Sirhan who claimed, “I did it for my country.” Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died, aged 42, at 1.44am, a few minutes after being taken off a life-support machine.
Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, USA
12.15am Wednesday 5 June 1968
On 3 March 1969 in a Los Angeles courtroom, Sirhan claimed that he had killed Kennedy “with 20 years of malice aforethought”, although he has maintained since being arrested that he has no memory of the crime. Sirhan was convicted on 17 April 1969 and was sentenced to death six days later. He moved into death row in San Quentin on 23 May 1969. The sentence was commuted to life in prison on 17 June 1972.