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June 5, 1968. Most people woke up on this morning to the horrifying news that Robert Kennedy had been shot shortly after delivering a Victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. News that he had won the California Primary for the Presidential election was cause for celebration, because it meant the nomination would be a sure thing, and crowds of campaign workers and supporters crowded the ballroom of the Hotel to see RFK and to share in the jubilant moment.
But the joy and jubilation quickly turned to screams of horror and shouts for a Doctor, as news spread throughout the room that Kennedy had been shot while on his way out of the Ballroom, taking a shortcut through the Kitchen to get to a waiting car.
From horror and panic came disbelief that Kennedy, who everyone in the room saw only minutes earlier, smiling and waving and acknowledging the outpouring of well-wishers, was now lying on the kitchen floor, aides offering comfort and wrestling the perpetrator to the ground, prying the gun out of his hand amid shouts of “break his fingers if you have to!”.
It was all reduced to confusion as reporters crammed the hallway searching for answers. Bulletins shot across wires and broke into programs – but most of the country was asleep, and didn’t know. Wouldn’t know until morning – and by then it was still unclear, still not out of the woods – Kennedy was still in critical condition, but still alive. Confusion and horror had turned to hope that it would all be okay – that Bobby would make it. We heard a bullet went into his brain – we heard it – but we didn’t want to believe it. We held on and listened and watched and waited for the day to unfold.
Here is a one-hour excerpt of continuous coverage from June 5, 1968 as presented by KFWB-AM in Los Angeles.