SALON: The story of Robert Kennedy’s assassination seems deceptively simple. After winning the California Democratic presidential primary on June 4, 1968, Sen. Robert Kennedy traversed a pantry at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. A young Palestinian Christian named Sirhan Sirhan pulled a gun and fired. Kennedy died roughly 25 hours later. Five others were wounded. Sirhan was tried and convicted. End of story, right? Not so fast. A crime is like a jigsaw puzzle. You can’t solve the puzzle by forcing a piece where it doesn’t belong. The theory that Sirhan killed Kennedy is an ill-fitting piece not supported by the physical evidence. Here are some facts that are not in dispute.
Fact: The medical evidence showed that Kennedy was shot four times from behind from a distance of 1 to 6 inches. The fatal shot entered Kennedy from 1 inch behind Kennedy’s right ear.
Fact: All witnesses placed Sirhan in front of Kennedy. Not one witness put Sirhan’s gun muzzle closer than a foot to Kennedy, and most witnesses placed the muzzle about 3 feet away.
Based on these two facts alone, Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi wrote in his memoir, “Thus I have never said that Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy.”
Fact: Seven bullets were recovered from six pantry victims. Another bullet was lost in the ceiling space. Sirhan’s gun could only hold eight bullets. But an FBI agent photographed four additional “bullet holes” in the pantry. This so worried Los Angeles County officials that, nine years later, they asked the FBI essentially for a retraction, noting that if those were, in fact, “bullet holes,” as the bureau unequivocally stated, “We should certainly find out who else was firing.”
In recent years, an audiotape recorded by Stanislaw Pruszynski, a Polish reporter covering the 1968 presidential campaign for Canadian newspapers, resurfaced that supported the FBI’s finding. Sound engineer Philip Van Praag used sophisticated equipment to analyze the tape and found at least 12 shot sounds on the tape. He also found that two pairs of shots came too close together to have been fired from a single gun. The evidence clearly points to at least two shooters that night in the Ambassador pantry. In addition to the physical evidence, multiple witnesses spotted other men with drawn guns in the pantry. MORE