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Doris O'Donnell
On the Trail of Sirhan Sirhan's Gun

Doris O'Donnell covered the Bobby Kennedy assassination. She was having a terrible time getting any information other than news wire stories.

Her assignment was to find out where Sirhan Sirhan's gun came from. She got a cab and hired him for the day. First they went to the police station where she ran into "an old, worn out looking cop." He told her how they hated the Kennedy's because they were so demanding.

She asked him where Sirhan got the gun and the policeman told her that an elderly couple in Pasadena owned it."At this point he is just venting about how bad everything is and I'm agreeing with everything he says. Remember these guys just came out of Watts and they've had it up to their eyeballs."

So he gave her the name of the couple in Pasadena. She took her cab out to Pasadena and knocked on the door. They told her the FBI had been there and told them not to talk to anyone else, but after much insistence the husband said he had worked in Saudi Arabia as an engineer so the FBI said not to talk. As luck would have it, however, they knew Paul Bellamy from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and had Cleveland connections and even lived in Cleveland briefly. The couple had adopted a baby girl at Booth Memorial Hospital.

As a result of the Cleveland connection, they told Doris that they bought the gun during the Watts Riots because Watts was just down the street. After the riots, they didn't want the gun anymore but their daughter (the one they adopted in Cleveland) wanted the gun, so they gave it to her. She and her husband moved to the San Francisco area and sold the gun to the son of a neighbor.

Doris O'Donnell in the 1960's

Doris O'Donnell in the 1960's
Image courtesy StoryWorks.TV

Doris went to the daughter's neighbor and they confirmed that their son had bought the gun. He was working as an auto mechanic, so Doris got in her cab and went to the mechanic shop. That led her to a department store where the manager confirmed that the son had worked there. On the day the news hit the television the son was with a co-worker. The co-worker looked up at the television and said "That's my brother!" The neighbor's son sold the gun to Sirhan's brother.

They told her that Sirhan worked for a Middle Eastern drug company. He had lived in Pasenda in a small house with his mother and brothers. Doris went to the Drug company and they told her all sorts of things about what Sirhan was like and such.

Still not satisfied, the Plain Dealer told her to go to the Bay area and find the girl. Her parents knew where she was but did not want to add to her distress. So she flew up to San Francisco and remembered that she knew the FBI agent who had worked in Cleveland and went to London and then finally San Francisco.

He said he couldn't help her, but told her to go to a small town and go to the grocery store. She was to mention his name and ask the girl who works there to get the address off the checks she cashes there.

There was only one thing standing between Doris and her story - the Golden Gate Bridge. She was petrified to drive over it; sure it would collapse while she was on it. Not to be stopped, Doris rented a helicopter to take her across.

Doris O'Donnell in 2011 - photo by Debbie Hanson

Doris O'Donnell in 2011

She went to the store and the woman gave Doris the address. Doris tracked her down, finally at her work at the Courthouse. The woman was fine with talking to her, just asked that her children not be named.

"It was one of my most amazing cases." and Doris got national coverage for her work.

Back to Doris O'Donnell Profile

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Doris O'Donnell in 2011

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