Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of shooting Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968. Despite an admission of guilt in a recorded confession, admitting at trial that he shot Kennedy, and a desire to plead guilty in the case, there are many who believe Sirhan Sirhan is innocent of actually assassinating Kennedy. This includes two of Robert Kennedy’s children. Robert Kennedy Jr. believes someone else shot his father and wants a new investigation. His sister, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, agrees with her brother.
The assassination took place before presidential candidates were given Secret Service protection, and the Los Angeles Police Department has been roundly criticized for its investigation into the death of Robert F. Kennedy.
Recent evidence suggests two guns were fired in the assassination, and that Sirhan’s revolver was not the gun used to kill Kennedy. Moreover, audio recordings from that event show that 13 shots were fired, but Sirhan’s gun only held eight bullets.
This Sirhan Sirhan wiki takes an in-depth look at the major milestones in the life of the convicted Robert F. Kennedy assassin.
March 19, 1944: Sirhan Bishara Sirhan Was Born
Sirhan Sirhan was born on March 19, 1944 into an Arab Palestinian Christian family in Jerusalem, Palestine. They lived in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood, opposite the Old City.
1948: Arab-Israeli War
In May 1948, the Arab-Israeli War broke out, fought between the State of Israel, and a coalition of Arab states, over the control of Palestine. Interestingly, Robert F. Kennedy was a correspondent for The Boston Post in Palestine during the war.
It was during this battle that Sirhan Sirhan, at age four, became, according to his mother, scarred by horrific scenes of fighting he saw in and around the Old City. While living in Old Jerusalem, Sirhan Sirhan recalled going to the well to get some water. When the bucket came up, it contained a hand. He also saw the exploded remains of a grocer he knew.
During this period of his childhood, it is alleged that Sirhan began to display “psychological problems.”
Also see: 9 Assassinations That Rocked the World
If his psychological problems began to arise during Israel’s War of Independence, it is easy to see that the young Sirhan Sirhan would, today, probably be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It might also explain why he harbored a bitter hatred for Israel.
In 1948, when Israel’s War of Independence was at its height, the city was split in two, with Sirhan’s family fleeing Musrara to the Jordanian-controlled eastern side. Jewish insurgents had seized his family’s home.
Until the war, Musrara was an affluent Palestinian neighborhood and the Sirhan’s lived a comfortable life. Afterward though, they were forced to share one house with nine families. Things became more tense when Sirhan’s father, Bishara, lost his job. It is also alleged that Bishra was a harsh man who often beat his sons.
1957: The Sirhan Family Immigrates to the U.S.
In 1956, when Sirhan was 12, his family were given a special immigration permit issued by the U.S. government to Palestinian refugees. Sponsored by an American church, the family moved to the U.S. in 1957, and settled in Pasadena, California. After settling, Sirhan Sirhan attended John Muir High School.
1964 -1968: Sirhan Expelled from School, Works Odd Jobs
After graduating, Sirhan Sirhan enrolled in Pasadena Community College. But he was expelled in 1964 for missing too many classes, and subsequently, for bad grades.
For the next several years, Sirhan drifted around, doing odd jobs, working at a horse stable and later, at a health food store.
Around this time, it is purported that the aimless Sirhan began drinking, exploring mysticism, and occult philosophies (including Theosophy and Rosicrucianism). He is also thought to have practiced self-hypnosis, and tried to move objects with his mind.
During this time, Sirhan Sirhan became vocal about his opposition to Israel; especially after the June 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel seized control of various territories, including the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Old City of Jerusalem.
While campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy said he supported Israel, and promised to send 50 fighter jets to Israel if he was elected. Around this time, Sirhan Sirhan wrote in his notebook, “Kennedy must die by June 5th.” It was a fortuitous date for Sirhan, as it was the first anniversary of the Six-Day War.
June 5, 1968: The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
On June 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy won the California primary election. He held a victory party at the Ambassador Hotel. Shortly after midnight, after giving a victory speech, Kennedy left the podium and was led through the pantry area to take a short cut to talk to reporters in a press room.
Kennedy was warned not to walk through the pantry because no one could guarantee who was going to be there. At the time, Kennedy’s people were adamant that police not come close to the senator while he was in Los Angeles. He wanted to be seen as a man of the people, and police uniforms would ruin that perception.
Also, there was no Secret Service protection for presidential candidates at that time. That rule changed after June 5, 1968.
Walking through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel, Kennedy turned to shake hands with the kitchen staff.
Sirhan Sirhan, 24, stepped in front of him and opened fire; shooting him in the head. Witnesses and experts said the fatal shot came from behind, from a distance of just one inch. Two other shots went into his back. A fourth bullet passed through his jacket. Kennedy died the following day.
After making the fatal shots, Sirhan Sirhan was tackled by a group of individuals, including authors George Plimpton and Pete Hamill, football Hall of Famer Rosey Grier, and Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson.
The short, slim, Sirhan Sirhan, who stood at just 5’5″ and weighed about 120 pounds, is remembered to have exerted almost superhuman strength. Even though one man held his wrist to a steam table in the Ambassador Hotel pantry, Sirhan was able to fire off five or six more shots. Even as he was held around the neck, body, and legs, it took six men to wrestle the .22-caliber pistol out of Sirhan’s grip.
Five other people were also shot: Paul Schrade, an official with the United Automobile Workers union; William Weisel, an ABC TV unit manager; Ira Goldstein, a reporter with the Continental News Service; Elizabeth Evans, a friend of Pierre Salinger, one of Kennedy’s campaign aides; and Irwin Stroll, a teenage Kennedy volunteer. They all survived.
“Let me explain!” Sirhan shouted as he was subdued. “I did it for my country.”
Sirhan Sirhan’s Arrest and Motives for Assassination
Sirhan Sirhan refused to give his name after being taken into custody. It was his two brothers who identified him after seeing his picture in the news. They gave consent for police to search Sirhan’s bedroom in their Pasadena home. It was there that police found Sirhan Sirhan’s journals, and books on the occult.
There have been a number of motives floating around for the killing of Robert F. Kennedy. One of the most popular being his revenge for Kenned