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Mayor Louie Welch on RFK Assassination (1968)

KPRC-TV

Sound | 1968

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  •  Houston Mayor Louie Welch comments on the shooting of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. At the time of broadcast on June 5, Kennedy was still in critical condition. He was pronounced dead at 1:44 am on June 6.  
  •  Welch likens the tragedy to the tale of Cain and Abel 
 
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In this news segment for Houston’s KPRC-TV, Mayor Louie Welch comments on the attack on United States Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. Just after midnight on June 5, 1968, 24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan fatally shot Kennedy as he exited through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Sirhan fired multiple times, wounding five others besides Kennedy, before bystanders disarmed and subdued him. Kennedy died nearly 26 hours later. He had been at the hotel to address campaign supporters following his win in the California primary election. Sirhan was convicted of murder in 1969, and sentenced to life in prison in 1972. The national debate surrounding federal gun control legislation that began with the JFK assassination in 1963 reached new heights following the MLK and RFK assassinations. Congress ultimately passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 to ban the mail-order sale of handguns, rifles, and shotguns as well as prohibit certain felons, drug users, and those found mentally incompetent from buying guns.
Politician Louie Welch was born in Lockney, Texas on December 9, 1918. He received a degree in history from Abilene Christian College, now Abilene Christian University.
 
Welch began his political career in 1950, serving four terms on the Houston City Council. He unsuccessfully sought the Houston mayoral office three times before being elected to the position in 1963. Houston grew immensely during Welch’s five terms as mayor, from the population topping one million people to the opening of the Astrodome in 1965 and the Houston Intercontinental Airport in 1969. 
 
His tenure, however, was not without its controversy. A 1967 conflict between police and Texas Southern University students created a rift between the local administration and many of Houston’s African Americans. Welch’s reputation also came under fire during his last term over his relationship with well-known crime leaders, leading to suspicions about how his second mayoral bid was financed. 
 
In 1985, Welch ran for mayor again, campaigning in opposition to the extension of job protection rights to members of the LGBTQ community employed by the city government. He lost to incumbent Kathy Whitmore. 
 
Welch died from lung cancer on January 27, 2008 in his Harris County residence. He was 89.