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White was picked up by an unidentified woman in a red sports car at his modest bungalow on Shawnee Avenue and taken to city hall. Shortly before 11 a.m., White tapped on a basement window just off the parking ramp on the north side of the ornate, gray granite building. He told an engineer inside that he had forgotten his keys to the locked double doors by which supervisors can enter conveniently from the parking area. The engineer recognized White and let him in through the window.
Minutes later, White slipped into a normally locked side door to the mayor's second-floor suite of offices. This entry let him avoid the busy outer reception room. White asked Moscone's secretary, Cyr Copertini, if he could see her boss. Moscone's press aide, Mel Wax, passed by, saw White and sent word that Horanzy and his family should wait in an outer office to avoid a collision with the disappointed former supervisor. Wax figured that White was making a last-minute plea to get his job back. Said Wax: "I didn't talk to him. I was worried that [Horanzy] and White would see each other and we'd have a scene."
Moscone, smiling and in shirtsleeves, came out to greet White. Copertini asked if the mayor wanted anyone to sit in on the meeting, as he usually did with visitors. He laughed and said, "No, I'll see him alone." The mayor then led White through his formal office and into a cozier rear sitting room. "When he wants a heart-to-heart with somebody, the back office is a more informal setting," Wax later explained. "He liked to sit on the couch."
Shortly after 11 a.m. Copertini heard several sharp noises. "I had an awful feeling," she said later. "I went over to the window and looked out, thinking they were shots, but hoping they weren't." At that moment, Deputy Mayor Rudy Nothenberg arrived for an 11 a.m. appointment with Moscone. Nothenberg looked in the mayor's office, did not see him, and walked into the small rear room. He saw the mayor lying on the floor, his head facing downward between the couch and a coffee table, his body bleeding badly.
Nothenberg raced out a side door and into the public corridor, shouting for police. White, meanwhile, headed for the suite of supervisors' offices on the opposite side of the building. He entered a main reception area, then went directly to Milk's office and asked: "Harvey, can I see you a minute?" Milk accompanied White to White's former office, where his nameplate had already been removed.
Dianne Feinstein, sitting near by at her desk, suddenly heard five slowly repeated shots. She picked up her telephone and called the police. White ran into the reception area, yelling: "Give me my keys! Give me my keys!" Somebody gave him the keys to his assistant's car. "He was a wild manhe was just a wild man," one witness said.