Around 12:15 a.m. PDT on June 5, 1968, Sirhan fired a .22 caliber Iver-Johnson Cadet revolver at Senator Robert Kennedy and the crowd surrounding him in the Ambassador Hotelin Los Angeles shortly after Kennedy had finished addressing supporters in the hotel's main ballroom. Authors George Plimpton, and Pete Hamill, NCAA shot put, discus and javelin thrower, and football Hall of Famer, Rosey Grier, and 1960 Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson were among several men who subdued
and disarmed Sirhan after a lengthy struggle.
Kennedy was shot three times, once in the head and twice in the back, with a fourth bullet passing through his jacket. He died nearly 26 hours later. Five other people at the party were also shot, but all five recovered: Paul Schrade, an official with the United Automobile Workers union; William Weisel, an ABC TV unit manager; Ira Goldstein, a reporter with the Continental News Service; Elizabeth Evans, a friend of Pierre Salinger, one of Kennedy's campaign aides; and Irwin Stroll, a teenage Kennedy volunteer.
A motive cited for his actions is the Middle East conflict. After his arrest, Sirhan said, "I can explain it. I did it for my country." Sirhan believed that he was deliberately betrayed by Kennedy's support for Israel in the June 1967 Six-Day War, which had begun exactly one year to the day before the assassination. During a search of Sirhan's apartment after his arrest, a spiral-bound notebook was found containing a diary entry which demonstrated that his anger had gradually fixated on Robert Kennedy, who had promised to send 50 fighter jets to Israel if he were elected president. Sirhan's journal entry of May 18, 1968, read: "My determination to eliminate R.F.K. is becoming the more and more of an unshakable obsession...Kennedy must die before June 5th." They found other notebooks and diary entries which contained his growing rage at Zionists, particularly at Kennedy; his journals also contained many nonsensical scribbles, which were thought to be his version of
The next day, on June 6, the Los Angeles Times printed an article by Jerry Cohen which discussed Sirhan's motive for the assassination, confirmed by the memos that Sirhan wrote to himself. The article stated: