As It Happens

'Get the gun!': Seconds after Bobby Kennedy was shot, a reporter filed this chilling report

Los Angeles reporter Andrew West was trying to buttonhole Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968. Instead, he witnessed the senator's assassination.

'His hand is frozen! Take a hold of his thumb and break it if you have to,' Andrew West cried

On June 5, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy prepares to leave the Ambassador Hotel ballroom in Los Angeles, before exiting through a kitchen backstage. Minutes later, he was shot in that kitchen. Sen. Kennedy died in hospital the following day. (Dick Strobel/AP)

He was trying to land an exclusive interview with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Instead, a Los Angeles reporter ended up recording the immediate aftermath of Kennedy's assassination — and the struggle to bring down the shooter.

Tuesday marks 50 years since Robert "Bobby" Kennedy was shot and killed. The senator was running for U.S. President and had just won the California Democratic primary. He had just finished his victory speech and was on his way to speak to the press.

That's when Andrew West, a reporter for the Mutual Broadcasting System, tried to buttonhole Sen. Kennedy. They were at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, walking through the restaurant's kitchen, when suddenly the senator was shot.

"Senator Kennedy has been shot, is that possible? ... It is possible. Oh my god, Senator Kennedy has been shot," West declares in a panicked report.

It's at this point that West realizes the shooter — 24-year-old Jordanian citizen Sirhan Sirhan — was still holding the gun. Not only that — the shooter was aiming the gun at West.

"He still has the gun — the gun is pointed at me right at this moment. Get the gun! Get the gun!" West cries.

"His hand is frozen! Get his thumb! Take a hold of his thumb and break it if you have to," he shouts.

About 20 seconds later, the shooter is tackled to the ground. West reports that Sen. Kennedy is "on the ground, bleeding profusely."

"It's impossible to believe this," West says.

Listen to West's full report, moments after the shots first rang out.

On June 6, 1968 — the day after he was shot — Sen. Kennedy died in hospital. 

Sirhan pleaded guilty to Sen. Kennedy's assassination, and remains at a California prison serving a life sentence.

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