• Share
  • Read Later

(4 of 10)

"I Want Him Alive." The word that Kennedy was wounded had spread back to the ballroom. Amid the screams and the weeping, Brother-in-Law Stephen Smith's controlled voice came through the loudspeaker system, asking that the room be cleared and appealing for a doctor. Within a few minutes, physicians were found and elbowed their way to Kennedy. More policemen arrived; none had been in the hotel, but a police car had been outside on other business. Rafer Johnson and Rosy Grier turned over their prisoner and the gun. The cops hustled the man out, carrying him part of the way past threatening spectators. Jesse Unruh bellowed: "I want him alive! I want him alive!"

Finally, 23 minutes after the shootings, the ambulances collected the stricken: the youngster Stroll; Paul Schrade, 43, the United Auto Workers' Pacific Coast regional director, whose profusely bleeding head rested on a white plastic Kennedy-campaign boater; Ira Goldstein, 19, a part-time employee of Continental News Service, hit in the left hip; William Weisel, 30, an American Broadcasting Co. associate director, wounded in the abdomen; Mrs. Elizabeth Evans, 43, who with her husband Arthur had been touring the several election-night headquarters and wound up with a slug in her forehead. Although Schrade was the one who appeared dead to onlookers, only Kennedy was critically wounded.

Hollow-Nosed Slugs. With Ethel by his side, Kennedy was taken first to nearby Central Receiving Hospital, where doctors could only keep him alive by cardiac massage and an injection of Adrenalin, and alert the better-equipped Good Samaritan Hospital to prepare for delicate brain surgery. As if there were not already enough grim echoes of Dallas and Parkland Hospital, the scene at Central Receiving was degraded by human perversity. A too-eager news photographer tried to barge in and got knocked to the floor by Bill Barry. A guard attempted to keep both a priest and Ethel away from the emergency room, flashed a badge, which Ethel knocked from his hand. The guard struck at her; Tuck and Fred Dutton swept him aside. Then the priest was allowed to administer extreme unction.

At Good Samaritan, meanwhile, a team of neurosurgeons was being assembled. At this stage, there was still some frail hope that Kennedy would live. It was known that he had been hit twice. One of the .22-caliber "long rifle," hollow-nosed slugs* had entered the right armpit and worked its way up to the neck; it was relatively harmless. The other had penetrated his skull and passed into the brain, scattering fragments of lead and bone. It was these that the surgeons had to probe for in their 3-hr. 40-min. operation (see MEDICINE).

Never Alone. In the intensive-care unit after the operation, Kennedy was never left alone with the hospital staff. Ethel rested on a cot beside him, held his unfeeling hand, whispered into his now-deaf ear. His sisters, Jean Smith and Pat Lawford, hovered near by. Ted Kennedy, his shirttail flapping, strode back and forth, inspecting medical charts and asking what they meant. Outside on Lucas Street, beneath the fifth-floor window, hundreds of Angelenos gathered for the vigil; crowds were to be with Bobby Kennedy the rest of the week. A local printer rushed out 5,000 orange and black bumper stickers: PRAY FOR BOBBY. His daughter and other girls gave them away to all takers.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10