How The Assassination Of RFK Changed The Life Of A Busboy (HBO)

Ever since he was a young boy, the Kennedy name has meant something special to Juan Romero. Growing up in Mexico, he remembers every house having a crucifix, with a picture of the pope on one side and a picture of President John F. Kennedy on the other.

When he moved to Los Angeles as a teenager, he witnessed John’s brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, marching with Cesar Chavez.

“Some people would say he could be rubbing elbows with royalty instead of walking down dirt roads with farm laborers,” Romero said. “What I felt about Robert Kennedy was that he was a champion of equal rights for everybody.”

On the night of June 4th, 1968, Romero was working as a busboy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy had just won the California Democratic Primary and was giving a victory speech in the ballroom of the hotel. Romero listened from the kitchen and hoped he might get the chance to shake the senator’s hand before he departed.

He did get that chance. And seconds later, Kennedy was fatally shot by Sirhan Sirhan. Romero crouched down and cradled the senator as he lied on the kitchen floor, bleeding. The moment was captured by photographers and immortalized by newspapers across the country the following day.

VICE News sat down with Romero 50 years later to hear about that moment — and how it changed his life.

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45 thoughts on “How The Assassination Of RFK Changed The Life Of A Busboy (HBO)

  1. Sad, sad story. The coroner’s report clearly stated that RFK was shot from point blank range behind the ear, and Sirhan was standing directly in front of him, about 3-5 feet away. Who was behind him? A security guard recently hired, who had the same gun as Sirhan, and whom had been interviewed saying he hated the Kennedy’s. The gun shop Sirhan bought ammo at? The employee testified in court, that Sirhan was there with two other people, including a young lady matching the description of the “polka dot dress girl”. This man was charged with humiliated, and arrested for perjury. He even had a copy of the receipt, and was a PROSECUTION witness. There were more bullet holes in the walls and ceiling than there were bullets in Sirhan’s gun. BUT, the LAPD lost this evidence. Of course.

  2. Juan, if you get to read this, just remember you were the last person Senator Kennedy was given sincere and spontaneous love and physical support from! Yes, God did choose you, and it wasn't to put a curse on you, it was to help you be that deep and conscientious man you are!

  3. Also interesting to note that as attorney general rfk had opened up an investigation on MLK who was killed 3 months earlier and yet he made an announcement about the assassination of MLK during his campaign trail. There were many black activists being killed at the time by the fbi's cointelpro program and there were alot of pissed off people.

  4. Not only did the bullet that went through rfk's back neck/ear not match sirhan's gun, but he was not in the correct position to fire the fatal shot. Sirhan was in front of rfk and fired some shots in a supposed hypnotic daze. As a palestinian he was a great patsy, since they wanted the American public to forget about the recent bombing of the U.S. navy ship Liberty and to continue giving money and weapons for the invasion of Palestine. The tall black security guard with glasses behind rfk was in the correct position and can be seen nudging rfk towards the kitchen pantry after speech, in some videos,which was an unusual path to take

  5. Shocking to see. JFK's assassination is always going to be brought up and remembered, but you hardly ever hear about or see old videos/pictures of his brother's assassination. I choked up watching this. This is all because of the secretive, cruel traits our government contains. God bless Juan and God bless the Kennedys. Truly saddening. :'(

  6. I always felt this guy was threatened by the CIA I'm sure he saw something but never coukdnt say anything because of fear this guy has dealt with slit of demons he had to see something and told something and threatened because he barely talks about it till now I understood he went through alot but still

  7. It is sad that this poor fellow had to witness this horrid crime and then have to deal with the effects of this crime. The question is did this have a positive effect on his life or a negative effect. Like everything in life I can only answer it did have an effect on him and he dealt with it. What more can you ask?

  8. I whole heartedly believe the FBI was complacent in the Kennedy and MLK assassinations. They were seen as radicals if not out right communists by American standards. J. Edgar Hoover certainly didn't shed a tear for them, if anything it cleared the presidency for red baiting lunatic like Nixon, and certainly was content with LBJ's foreign policy.

  9. Wow. Just Wow.
    I remember this photo, but knew nothing about the young man who was trying to help Robert Kennedy as he lay dying.
    Thanks for posting this vice.
    May this man find peace someday, I can see that moment still haunts him.😞
    We all want to be famous…..until something like what happened to this man occurs.

    Funny how sometimes history remembers the "average" person.

  10. The first thing RFK said when shot was "Is EVERYBODY okay?" As a high schooler who just learned about RFK…my heart hurts…his death really seemed like an extinguishing of hope. His compassion, empathy, and faith he had in our country was like no other. Many of his words still ring true today. Let us carry on his hopes and dreams for our nation

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