Robert F. Kennedy had a long career ahead of him when he was shot on June 5, 1968. 50 years after his assassination in Los Angeles, California, the busboy who held the dying man in his arms recalled Kennedy’s final words. As he lay dying, his concern appeared to be for the crowd gathered around him as he asked, “Is everyone ok?”
Juan Romero, who was just 17 at the time, helped deliver room service to Kennedy the day before the assassination. He told NPR’s “Story Corps” that Kennedy, even away from the public eye, greeted the hotel staffers like friends.
“He put down the phone and says, ‘Come on in, boys,’ ” Romero says. “You could tell when he was looking at you that he’s not looking through you — he’s taking you into account. And I remember walking out of there like I was 10 feet tall.”
Just one day later, after Kennedy won the California Democratic primary, he left a crowd of supporters and took a shortcut through the Ambassador Hotel’s kitchen to meet with the press. Romero said that he paused to shake hands with kitchen staffers as he walked through.
I remember extending my hand as far as I could, and then I remember him shaking my hand. And as he let go, somebody shot him.
Romero immediately dropped to the ground beside Kennedy and bent closer to hear his final words. “Is everyone ok?” Kennedy asked. Romero told him that everyone was fine, and sat there holding Kennedy’s head to keep it from touching the concrete floor. (RELATED: JFK Assassination Files Are Now Declassified. Read Them Here.)
He recalled staying with the fallen politician until paramedics took him away, saying, “I could feel a steady stream of blood coming through my fingers. I remember I had a rosary in my shirt pocket and I took it out, thinking that he would need it a lot more than me. I wrapped it around his right hand and then they wheeled him away.”