RFK Assassination - The Final Chapter
There are many unanswered questions surrounding the death of Robert Kennedy, not least the fact the Sirhan, Sirhan, the alleged assassin (still languishing in jail), had an eight shot revolver but there appear to have been more than eight bullet flying around the murder scene. Sirhan’s alleged weapon was a gate loading, 8 shot Iver Johnson revolver. He did not have time to reload, nor is there any suggestion that he did. The official version is that only eight shots could have been fired. BUT, apart from the 3 bullets in Robert Kennedy, 4 were found in other victims. As well as that, there were, apparently (I say apparently because much of the evidence was subsequently destroyed by the LAPD), 3 bullet holes in the ceiling, two in a door jam, and, possibly, one in a door and one in a wall. That is an awful lot of bullets to be accounted for from an eight shot gun.
Considering the ceiling first it is suggested one bullet went through a tile and lodged itself above, another, went through the false ceiling tiles, ricocheted on the real ceiling and then came back though the false ceiling – 3 bullet holes apparently accounted for (but no bullet ever recovered from the ceiling). There seems to be rather more confusion concerning the bullets in the door jam, door and wall. There is a photograph showing policemen pointing at bullet holes in the door jam, but now it is suggested that these may not have been bullet holes (though the very thorough coroner appears to have thought they were bullet holes at the time of his investigation). Whatever way you cut it, I just cannot see the evidence adding up to only 8 shots. 7 bullets accounted for and 5, 6 or 7 extra bullet holes – most of them BEHIND the victims of gun shot who were walking through the room towards the alleged assassin (and therefore, quite clearly, not caused by the bullets recovered from them). There are other oddities to this case. After the attack on RFK one would have thought that all the guns on the scene would have been collected for forensic analysis and comparison. This did not happen. It was, it appears, treated as an open and shut case by the Los Angeles police.
The security guard behind Kennedy, however, had a gun in a holster. And, there are witness reports of another gun or guns being drawn. It gets fishier. The security guard denies firing his gun. Under normal circumstances, one might have expected it to be a .38 of some sort. The guard specifically denied owning a gun of the same calibre as the murder weapon. But investigation suggests that he did have a .22 at the time of the shooting and later sold it. You might think that his covert involvement could have been ruled out by the most basic forensic testing. BUT, for some reason, only the alleged assassin’s gun was recovered by the police, any others were left in their owner’s hands on the day. Moreover, proper comparison tests involving photo-micrographs of the alleged murder weapon and recovered bullets were not completed. This is truly remarkable. It is suggested that Sirhans’s gun was repeatedly fired by souvenir hunters at the LAPD to the extent that the bore was damaged. This sounds most odd – scarcely credible in fact. Tampering with the gun in this way is ethically questionably of itself, one wonders moreover how many shots you would have to put through a .22 to invalidate comparison testing through bore wear – thousands if not tens of thousands.
Having eliminated the impossible – and I tend to think that the results recorded at the Pantry are impossible to explain with an 8 shot, un-reloaded, revolver in the hands of a single assassin – one must consider the improbable. Could there have been another gunman? I think there could have been. The question is posed. Did the security guard do it? Before going further, let me set the historical scene for you at the moment of the shooting. Sirhan, Sirhan is to the front of the Senator at one end of a galley kitchen, the security guard is just behind and to one side of RFK, a crowd of supporters and hanger’s on are behind the Senator’s forward party. Now consider this. As the Palestinian opens fire, the security guard could have used this as a cover to shoot the Senator himself (which would be one explanation for the close proximity powder burns on Kennedy). Or, he may have fired wildly in self defence with a non-regulation .22 revolver (which many security guards and police officers used to own for practice purposes or because they found it a more accurate and controllable weapon than a .38) accidentally hitting RFK instead of Sirhan.
As far as the re-enactment was concerned, I was put into a most interesting and challenging situation. None of the actors and extras knew what precisely was going to happen. They were not historians. Their brief was a simple one: we were going to recreate the assassination of RFK for a TV documentary. If they thought anything at all about the guy in blue uniform and blue peak cap – it was just that I was another extra in their midst. My covert mission, meantime, was to shoot ‘RFK’ when ‘Sirhan’ struck without anyone realising that there was another gunman firing. My pre-planned method (one which I practised with our prop master shortly beforehand), involved appearing to pull the Senator back, out of danger when the ‘assassin’ opened fire, whilst surreptitiously shooting him at very close range and falling over with him. I resolved to get my shots inside the cadence of the apparent assassin’s gun. His bangs would, I predicted, disguise mine.
H hour approached. The extras looked amazingly realistic. Everyone played ‘in character’. The girls in their straw hats and campaign badges, Hispanic waiters as per the day (one of who assumed I was a real policeman patrolling the set), the hotel Maitre D and RFK in period costume. They would come in through the doors of the re-constructed, narrow, pantry. The mob would push forward with RFK ‘pressing the flesh’ to his front and sides, the assassin would strike. Our RFK psyched himself up by delivering, off camera, the same speech as the real RFK had given outside the pantry on the day. The group moved into the pantry in which I was standing by the entrance. I joined the senator’s party and as we moved up the corridor like room one could not help but have a sense of déjà vu. Kennedy moves on smiling and shaking hands, I am guiding him, holding one arm gently from behind. Suddenly Sirhan runs forward “YOU, KENNEDY!!!!”[actually he is reported to have said YOU SON OF A BITCH] he starts firing and is partially restrained by the Maitre D. At his first shot, I pull Kennedy back, draw my own weapon and empty the chamber into ‘RFK’s’ side. For safety reasons, I dispensed with the head shot. [Our double, moreover, is wearing a bullet proof vest at my request even though we are using blanks. By co-incidence, and as if to re-enforce the need for caution, one of our crew had been on the Jason Lee set when he was accidentally shot by a .44.]
I fall over with Kennedy, my clip on tie falls off just as the security guard’s did on the day in question. We all lie still – playing dead or wound. The metaphorical whistle blows and the director tells us to get up. The extras, more than twenty of them are taken aside. What did they see and hear? What transpired was truly remarkable and has led me to completely rethink my views on so called ‘eye-witness’ testimony. No-one, absolutely no-one saw an extra gun. Most said that they had heard one or two shots (in fact 14 had been fired). Only one girl mentioned that she had heard multiple shots. I was amazed. No-one noticed me at all. It was as if the uniform made me invisible. The experiment does not prove that the security guard did it, but is does show that he could have done it. There is no question in my mind that the possibility of a second gunman must now be taken very seriously. Does it solve the mystery? Not quite.