Bobby Kennedy was shot at 12.16 a.m. on June 5, 1968 in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Here are six audio recordings from the night of the shooting that capture the horror and confusion in the immediate aftermath of the assassination and Sirhan Sirhan’s mental state during his first hours in custody.
Track 1: Radio reporter Andrew West catches the end of Kennedy’s victory speech and rolls tape again in the chaotic aftermath of the gunfire as Kennedy supporters struggle to restrain Sirhan.
Track 2: The police department respond laconically, at first, to an emergency call from the hotel before we hear patrol cars racing to the scene on police radio channels, with 2L30 (Sgt Paul Sharaga) one of the first officers to arrive.
Track 3: The captured assailant is interviewed by Sergeant Bill Jordan at Rampart police station 29 minutes after the shooting. This recording is crucial in establishing Sirhan’s state of mind in the aftermath of the assassination. Was he cool, calm, sober and sharp as a tack, as Jordan later told the jury? Or is there evidence he was high on four Tom Collins cocktails and in a dissociated state, unaware of what he had just done?
Track 4: A brief chat between “John Doe” and Deputy D.A. John Howard at 2.05 a.m. The prisoner wishes to remain incommunicado.
Track 5: Following her NBC interview with Sander Vanocur on national TV, Sandra Serrano is interviewed by LAPD about the girl in the polka-dot dress she saw fleeing the scene, exclaiming “We shot him, we shot Kennedy”. Serrano would later recognise Sirhan as one of two men she saw walking up a fire escape with the girl and entering the hotel twenty minutes before the shooting.
Track 6: We hear excerpts from Sirhan’s conversations in the Central Jail between 3.15 and 5.35 a.m. with Officer Frank Foster, Sergeant Jordan, John Howard and his chief investigator George Murphy and Sergeant Melendres. See transcript below.