Who knew a connection exists between and Robert F. Kennedy's assasin? That was an eye-opener to some of us.
At Saturday's for the exhibit of Santa Anita Park photos, John Shear, 90, shared his memories of working alongside Sirhan Sirhan at the track in 1965. To refresh your memory, Shear, a former trainer, from being trampled by a runaway horse at the park last year.
Shear said he was one of the first people called by authorities after the assassination to confirm Sirhan’s identity.
According to various reports, Sirhan, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian Christian, graduated from John Muir High School and Pasadena City College before working as a stable boy at Santa Anita Park from 1965 to 1966.
The 5-feet-5-inch, 120-pound 22-year-old had dreams of becoming a jockey until he fell while exercising a horse one September morning in 1966. He suffered serious head and eye injuries that limited his peripheral vision.
But Sirhan continued to frequent Santa Anita as a bettor.
In fact, he was checking race results and schedules in the newspaper when he noticed an item about an anti-Israeli demonstration not far from the Ambassador Hotel where Kennedy was heading that night.
June 5, 1968 — the day he shot Kennedy.
Sirhan had become very anti-RFK by that point, and even wrote in his journal that "Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated by 5 June 68.” That was the first anniversary of the Six-Day War in which Israel went on the offensive to counter what it felt was an impending attack by neighboring Arab countries.
But Sirhan apparently had no real plan or driving desire to make RFK's death happen himself. It was only when he couldn’t round up any buddies for a game of pool at his favorite Pasadena pool hall that he decided to drive to the Ambassador Hotel.
Once there, he drank so heavily that he decided to leave until he realized that he was too drunk to drive. So, he returned to the hotel, where he was able to gain entry to a pantry in the kitchen just off the ballroom.
And history was made.
Read more by Scott Hettrick at ArcadiasBest.com.
Hettrick's City Views blog is not intended to reflect any position of the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, where he is Executive Director.