Busboy reveals what he claims were Bobby Kennedy's last words, 50 years on from his assassination
In the early hours of June 6th, 1968 - almost 50 years ago to the day - Robert F Kennedy was in attendance at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles as part of his presidential campaign. He had just won the California primary and was in LA to speak to his supporters.
Tragically, his victory would not last for long, as the 42-year-old politician was shot dead just moments after giving a speech.
The incident was burned into the memories of those present that day, as well as everyone who had wanted to see RFK as the next president. However, one man remembers the horrific incident clearer than most people, as he was purportedly the one to hear Kennedy's final words.
Juan Romero, who was only 17 at the time of Kennedy's assassination, was working as a busboy at Ambassador Hotel on the night of the attack.
After the senator had addressed his supporters in the hotel's ballroom, he was ushered away into the kitchen (despite his bodyguard advising him not to go that route), where he met several members of staff - including Romero. As it turned out, though, the busboy would be the last person that Kennedy ever met, as he was assassinated just after shaking the teenager's hand.
"I remember extending my hand as far as I could, and then I remember him shaking my hand," Romero said during an interview with StoryCorps, according to NPR. "And as he let go, somebody shot him."
In a split second, Romero went from shaking hands with the senator to cradling him as he died.
Without a second thought, Romero crouched down to come to Kennedy's aid.
"I kneeled down to him and I could see his lips moving, so I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, 'Is everybody OK?'" the former busboy recalled. "I said, 'Yes, everybody's OK.'"
By Romero's account, these were the presidential candidate's last words.
"I put my hand between the cold concrete and his head just to make him comfortable," Romero explained. "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."
As he was taken away, though, Kennedy is reported to have whispered, "don't lift me" to medical attendants - and it's likely that this was the last thing he said.
The senator was first taken to Los Angeles' Central Receiving Hospital, and then to the Good Samaritan Hospital, where he eventually passed away in the early hours of the morning.
Romero has never forgotten his encounter with Kennedy, nor has he let go of an earlier interaction he'd had with the presidential candidate while delivering room service the day before his death. According to the former hotel employee, Kennedy made him feel "10 feet tall" when he spoke to him, and he has always held a certain degree of respect for the man because of that.
Years after the assassination, in 2010, Romero bought a new suit and went to Kennedy's grave to pay his respects.
"When I wore the suit and I stood in front of his grave, I felt a little bit like that first day that I met him,” Romero said. "I felt important. I felt American. And I felt good."
24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan was held accountable for Kennedy's death, but that has long been disputed, and still remains a subject of debate today.