John Lennon's Death Lingers for Witnesses

Monday, December 5th 2005, 10:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A television news producer. An emergency room doctor. Two NYPD beat cops. Before that December night 25 years ago, they shared little but this: As children of the '60s, the soundtrack of their lives came courtesy of the Beatles.

Alan Weiss, a two-time Emmy winner before his 30th birthday, was working at WABC-TV. His teen years were the time of ``Revolver'' and ``Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.'' In his 20s, Weiss admired John Lennon's music and politics.

Dr. Stephan Lynn was starting his second year as head of the Roosevelt Hospital emergency room. He remembered the Beatles playing ``The Ed Sullivan Show,'' although he didn't quite get the resultant hysteria.

Officer Pete Cullen, with partner Steve Spiro, did the night shift on Manhattan's Upper West Side. They'd occasionally run into Lennon walking through the neighborhood with his son, Sean. ``The Beatles were a big part of my life,'' Cullen said.

On the night of Dec. 8, 1980, Lynn was in the ER, Weiss was heading home from the newsroom, Cullen and Spiro were on the job _ and Mark David Chapman was lurking outside Lennon's home.

The chubby man with the wire-rimmed glasses stood patiently in the dark outside the Dakota apartment house. He carried a copy of ``The Catcher In the Rye,'' the J.D. Salinger tale of disaffected youth, and a five-shot Charter Arms .38-caliber revolver.

Lennon, just two months past his 40th birthday, returned from a midtown Manhattan recording studio at 10:50 p.m with wife Yoko Ono. The limousine stopped at the ornate 72nd Street gate; John and Yoko emerged. Chapman's voice, the same one that had beseeched the ex-Beatle for an autograph hours earlier, rang out: ``Mr. Lennon!''

The handgun was leveled at the rock world's foremost pacifist. Four bullets pierced their famous target.

The voice of a generation was reduced to a final gasp: ``I'm shot.''

``Do you know what you just did?'' screamed the Dakota's doorman.

``I just shot John Lennon,'' Chapman replied softly.