When Robert F. Kennedy decided to duck through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after declaring victory in the 1968 Democratic presidential primary, Juan Romero reveled at his good fortune.
It meant the 18-year-old busboy might get to shake hands with his hero — the man he’d assured himself would be the next president of the United States — for the second time in two days.
Romero had just grasped Kennedy’s hand when gunshots rang out, one of them striking the senator in the head.
Kennedy would die the next day and the teenage Mexican immigrant who had idolized him would carry the emotional burden of that encounter for most of his life.
“I remember him one time saying he felt guilty,” his daughter, Josefina Guerra, said Thursday. “He thought it was his fault.”
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