Kennedy succumbed to extensive brain damage caused when his assassin fired eight shots at point-blank range.
Death came at 1:44 am, and was attributed to a “bullet that entered his head behind the right ear.”
“He was not able to build back up tissue after the trauma of last night and the surgery this morning,” said Frank Mankiewicz, Kennedy’s press secretary who made the official announcement.
President Johnson was informed immediately of the death, and proclaimed a day of national mourning.
An unidentified priest was also with the New York senator at the time of death, as were his brother, Senator Edward Kennedy; his sisters, Mrs Stephen Smith and Patricia Lawford; and his brother-in-law, Stephen Smith.
Deputy Police Chief Noel McQuown, of the Los Angeles Police Department, said he assumed charges against Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the 24-year-old Jordanian immigrant accused of the shooting, would be changed to murder.
McQuown said he did not know whether Sirhan had been informed of Kennedy’s death. He was held in the Los Angeles County jail, about five miles 3an the hospital where the senator
Hopes had risen slightly when more than eight how’s went by without a new medical bulletin on the stricken senator, but the grimness of the final announcement was signaled when Frank Mankiewicz, Kennedy’s press secretary, walked slowly down the street in front of the hospital toward the littered gymnasium that served as press headquarters.
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 am (PDT) he said: “I have a short announcement to read,” and then he told of Kennedy’s death.
The text of Mankiewicz’s statement read:
“I have a short announcement to read, which I will read at this time. Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 am. today, June 6, 1968. With Senator Kennedy at the time of his death was his wife Ethel, his sister, Patricia Lawford, his brother-in-law, Stephen Smith, and his sister-in-law, Mrs John F. Kennedy. He was 42 years old.”
In Washington, the President issued this 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 l extend our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Kennedy and to his family. I have issued a proclamation calling upon our nation to observe a day of mourning for Robert Kennedy.”
The proclamation set next Sunday for a day of national mourning and directs that from now until burial the United States flag will be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds and ships of the federal government.
Bobby Kennedy fails to improve – Doctors’ concern increasing
Arizona Republic – June 6, 1968
Robert Kennedy dead
Bobby Kennedy shot – Arizona Republic – June 6, 1968
Kennedy shot, bullet in brain – Surgeons fight to save life
Daily News, New York – June 6, 1968
Daily News, New York – June 6, 1968
Bobby Kennedy shot: Body in state at St Patrick’s – Last brother keeps vigil
Daily News, New York – June 7, 1968
Bullet out, Kennedy critical – Latest vote put RFK on Humphrey’s heels
Dayton Daily News – June 5, 1968
Kennedy loses battle for life
Dayton Daily News – June 6, 1968
Sen. Kennedy near death
Democrat and Chronicle – June 6, 1968
RFK comes home to NY
Democrat and Chronicle – June 7, 1968
Detroit American – June 6, 1968
Extra: Kennedy is dead – Fails to respond as doctors hoped