Kennedy is Dead, Victim of Assassin; Suspect, Arab Immigrant, Arraigned; Johnson Appoints Panel on Violence
Surgery in Vain
President Calls Death Tragedy, Proclaims a Day of Mourning
By Gladwin Hill
Special to the New York Times
LOS ANGELES, Thursday, June 6 -- Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of a murdered president, died at 1:44 A.M. today of an assassin's shots.
The New York Senator was wounded more than 20 hours earlier, moments after he had made his victory statement in the California primary.
At his side when he died today in Good Samaritan Hospital were his wife, Ethel; his sisters, Mrs. Stephen Smith and Mrs. Patricia Lawford; his brother-in-law, Stephen Smith; and his sister-in-law, Mrs. John F. Kennedy, whose husband was assassinated 4-1/2 years ago in Dallas.
In Washington, President Johnson issued a statement calling the death a tragedy. He proclaimed next Sunday a national day of mourning.
The Final Report
Hopes had risen slightly when more then eight hours went by without a new medical bulletin on the stricken senator, but the grimness of the final announcement was signaled when Frank Mankiewicz, Mr. Kennedy's press secretary, walked slowly down the street in front of the hospital toward the littered gymnasium that served as press headquarters.
Mr. Mankiewicz bit his lip. His shoulders slumped.
He stepped to a lectern in front of a green-tinted chalkboard and bowed his head for a moment while the television lights snapped on,
Then, at one minute before 2 A.M., he told of the death of Mr. Kennedy.
Following is the text of the statement from Mr. Mankiewicz:
"I have a short announcement to read which I will read at this time. Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 A.M. today, June 6, 1968. With Senator Kennedy at the time of his death was his wife, Ethel; his sisters, Mrs. Patricia Lawford and Mrs. Stephen Smith; his brother-in-law, Stephen Smith, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. John F. Kennedy.
"He was 42 years old."
Senator Kennedy's body will be taken to New York this morning and then to Washington.
The man accused of shooting Mr. Kennedy early yesterday in a pantry of the Ambassador Hotel was identified as Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, 24 years old, who was born in Palestinian Jerusalem of Arab parentage and had lived in the Los Angeles area since 1957. Sirhan had been a clerk.
Yesterday, he was hurried through an early-morning court arraignment and held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Sirhan was charged with six counts of assault with intent to murder, an offense involving a prison term of 1 to 14 years,
Five other persons in addition to the 42-year-old senator were wounded by the eight bullets from a .22-caliber revolver fired at almost point-blank range into a throng of Democratic rally celebrants surging between ballrooms in the hotel. The shots came moments after Senator Kennedy had made a speech celebrating his victory in yesterday's Democratic Presidential primary in California.
The defendant, seized moments after the shooting, refused to give the police any information about himself. He was arraigned as "John Doe."
Three hours later, Mayor Samuel W. Yorty announced at a news conference at police headquarters that the defendant had been identified as Sirhan. He said the identity had been confirmed by Sirhan's brother and a second individual.
Senator Kennedy, accompanied by his wife, Ethel, was wheeled into the Good Samaritan Hospital shortly after 1 A.M. yesterday after a brief stop at the Central Receiving Hospital. A score of the Senator's campaign aides swarmed around the scene.
Less than five years back many of them had experienced the similar tragedy that ended the life of President John F. Kennedy.
At 2:22 A.M., Senator Kennedy's campaign press secretary, Frank Mankiewicz, came out of the hospital into a throng of hundreds of news people to announce that the Senator would be taken into surgery "in five or ten minutes" for an operation of "45 minutes or an hour."
One bullet had gone into the Senator's brain past the mastoid bone back of the right ear, with some fragments going near the brain stem. Another bullet lodged in the back of the neck. A third and minor wound was an abrasion on the forehead.
It was after 7 A.M. when Mr. Mankiewicz reported that more than three hours of surgery had been completed, and all but one fragment of the upper bullet had been removed. The neck bullet was not removed but "is not regarded as a major problem," Mr. Mankiewicz said:
He also reported that the Senator's vital signs had remained about as they had been, except that he was now breathing on his own, which he had not been doing before the surgery. Then Mr. Mankiewicz said:
"There may have been an impairment of the blood supply to the mid-brain, which the doctors explained as governing certain of the vital signs -- heart, eye track, level of consciousness -- although not directly the thinking process."
Senator Kennedy was taken from surgery to an intensive-care unit.
At 2:15 P.M. Mr. Mankiewicz announced that Senator Kennedy had not regained consciousness and that a series of medical tests had been "inconclusive and don't show measurable improvement in Senator Kennedy's condition."
"His condition as of 1:30 P.M. remains extremely critical," the spokesman continued. "His life forces -- pulse, temperature, blood pressure and heart -- remain good, and he continues to show the ability to breathe on his own, although he is being assisted by a resuscitator."
The tests included X-rays and electroencephalograms.
Mrs. Kennedy remained at the hospital.
Mrs. John F. Kennedy arrived at the hospital at 7:30 P.M. yesterday, after a chartered plane flight from New York.
A team of surgeons treating Senator Kennedy included Dr. James Poppen, head of neurosurgery at the Lahey Clinic in Boston. He was rushed to Los Angeles in an Air Force plane on instructions from Vice President Humphrey.
Mr. Humphrey and Senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota have been Senator Kennedy's rivals in the democratic Presidential competition.
Mayor Yorty said the defendant's identification had come through a brother, Adel Sirhan, after the police had traced the ownership of the .22-caliber revolver involved in the shooting to a third brother, Munir Bishari Salameh Sirhan, also known as Joe Sirhan.
The weapon was traced through three owners, one in suburban Alhambra, the next in Marin County, adjacent to San Francisco, and back to an 18-year-old youth in suburban Pasadena. The youth said he had sold it to "a bushy-haired guy named Joe" whom he knew only as an employee of a Pasadena department store.
Detectives identified the bushy haired man as Munir Sirhan. From him, the trail led to the two other brothers, who have been living together in Pasadena.
The snubnosed .22-caliber Iver Johnson Cadet model revolver seized after the shooting was described as having been picked out of a list of 2.5 million weapons registered in California in "just seconds" after the disclosure of its serial number. This was done by a new computer used by the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification in Sacramento, according to State Attorney General Thomas Lynch.
The defendant was arraigned at 7 A.M., unusually early, before Municipal Judge Joan Dempsey Klein, on a complaint issued by District Attorney Evelle Younger after all-night consultation with the police.
Deputy District Attorney William Ritzi said the case would be presented to the county grand jury on Friday.
The other victims of the shooting were Paul Schrade; 43 years old, a regional director of the United Automobile and Aerospace Workers Union, a prominent Kennedy campaigner; William Weisel, 30, a unit manager for the American Broadcasting; Ira Goldstein, 19, an employee of Continental News Service at nearby Sherman Oaks; Mrs. Elizabeth Evans, 43, of Sangus, in Los Angeles County, and Irwin Stroll, 17.
Mr. Schrade, the most seriously wounded of the five, underwent an apparently successful operation at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital today to remove a bullet from his skull.
Mr. Weisel was reported in good condition after removal of a bullet from his abdomen.
The court complaint against Sirhan charged that "on or about the fifth day of June 1968, at and in the county of Los Angeles a felony was committed by John Doe, who at the time and place aforesaid, did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit an assault with a deadly weapon upon Robert Francis Kennedy, a human being, with the intent then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought to kill and murder the said Robert Francis Kennedy,"
Sirhan was represented at the arraignment by the chief public defender, Richard S. Buckley. He asked Mr. Buckley to get in touch with the American Civil Liberties Union about getting private counsel for him.
Special to the New York Times
WASHINGTON, Thursday, June 6 -- President Johnson issued the following statement:
"This is a time of tragedy and loss. Senator Robert F. Kennedy is dead.
"Robert Kennedy affirmed this country -- affirmed the essential decency of its people, their longing for peace, their desire to improve conditions of life for all.
"During his life, he knew far more than his share of personal tragedy. Yet he never abandoned his faith in America. He never lost his confidence in the spiritual strength of ordinary men and women.
"He believed in the capacity of the young for excellence and in the right of the old and poor to a life of dignity.
"Our public life is diminished by his loss.
"Mrs. Johnson and I extend our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Kennedy and his family.
"I have issued a proclamation calling upon our nation to observe a day of mourning for Robert Kennedy."