Nation: Another Day of Death

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Within 35 minutes of the murders, White and his wife walked into a police station four blocks from city hall. It was, ironically, a station out of which White had once worked as a patrolman. He turned in a five-shot, snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special Revolver, nine expended shell casings and eight unexpended rounds of hollow-point ammunition. He spent some 90 minutes under questioning by homicide detectives, then was taken to an upstairs jail and booked. After visiting him there, Mrs. White left weeping.

The coroner reported that Moscone had been shot in the right lung and the liver, then twice in the head at extremely close range. Milk had been shot three times in the body, then twice in the head, also at close range. The nine shots meant that White had reloaded his revolver after killing the mayor. At his arraignment, a controlled but subdued White asked for more time to hire a lawyer and decide how to plead to charges of first-degree murder. He was given until this week to do so.

As the city went into mourning and held services for the victims of the tragedy, Supervisor Feinstein, who had twice run vainly for mayor, emerged as a calming, compassionate leader. "If there was ever a time for this city to pull itself together, this is that time," she pleaded. "We need to be together and bring out what is good in each of our hearts." She praised Moscone at a public service for never abandoning the poor, even, as the mayor had recently said, "now that it has become fashionable to be hard-line and ultrarealistic about social goals." She said of Milk: "His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed peoples wear."

Milk, a native of New York who moved to San Francisco as a financial analyst in 1969 and later opened a successful camera shop, had been very frank about his homosexuality. At his swearing-in ceremony as supervisor last January, after other officials had introduced their wives, he had presented Jack Lira, 24, as "my lover—my partner in life." Lira committed suicide three months ago in a state of depression. In the remarkable tape recording predicting that he might be killed, Milk urged that if it happened, other gays should "turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive so that hundreds will step forward, so that gay doctors will come out, gay lawyers, gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects. These are my strong requests, knowing that it could happen, hoping it doesn't."

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