"People were six and seven deep," Juan says, but he got close enough to stick out his hand. As Kennedy grabbed it, Juan heard a bang and felt a flash of heat against his face. Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin, had fired from just off Juan's shoulder.
"I thought it was firecrackers at first, or a joke in bad taste," says Juan, but then he saw Kennedy sprawled on the floor and knelt to help him up.
"He was looking up at the ceiling, and I thought he'd banged his head. I asked, 'Are you OK? Can you get up?' One eye, his left eye, was twitching, and one leg was shaking."
Juan slipped a hand under the back of Kennedy's head to lift him and felt warm blood spilling through his fingers.
"People were screaming, 'Oh my God, not another Dallas!' "
Ethel Kennedy knelt down at her husband's side and pushed Juan away. Juan looked on, angry and stunned, fingering the rosary beads in his pocket.
"When I was in trouble, I would always go and pray to God to make my stepfather forget what I'd done, or to keep me out of trouble the next time. I asked Ethel if I could give Bobby the rosary beads, and she didn't stop me. She didn't say anything.
"I pressed them into his hand but they wouldn't stay because he couldn't grip them, so I tried wrapping them around his thumb. When they were wheeling him away, I saw the rosary beads still hanging off his hand."
Monday, June 16, 2008
He Put a Rosary in R.F.K.'s Hand
From a column by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times: