- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — A television news producer. An emergency-room doctor. Two New York 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, Mr. 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 Mr. Lennon walking through the neighborhood with his son, Sean.

“The Beatles were a big part of my life,” Officer Cullen said.



On the night of Dec. 8, 1980, Dr. Lynn was in the emergency room, Mr. Weiss was heading home from the newsroom, Officers Cullen and Spiro were on the job — and Mark David Chapman was lurking outside Mr. Lennon’s home.

Chapman waited patiently in the dark outside the Dakota apartment house. He carried a copy of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher In the Rye” and a .38-caliber revolver.

Mr. 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; the couple emerged. Chapman’s voice, who had beseeched the ex-Beatle for an autograph hours earlier, shouted out the singer’s name and fired, hitting Mr. Lennon four times.

The singer gasped. “I’m shot.”

“Do you know what you just did?” the Dakota’s doorman screamed at Chapman.

“I just shot John Lennon,” he replied.

Officers Cullen and Spiro were first to answer the report of shots fired. “Somebody just shot John Lennon,” the doorman shouted, pointing at Chapman.

“Where’s Lennon?” Officer Cullen asked. The rock star was crumpled inside a nearby vestibule, blood pouring from his chest. Officer Cullen went to Mr. Lennon’s side as Officer Spiro handcuffed the gunman.

Two other officers lugged Mr. Lennon’s limp body to a waiting police car, which sped downtown to Roosevelt Hospital.

Officer Cullen spotted Mrs. Ono.

“Can I go, too?” she asked as her husband disappeared. A ride was quickly arranged. The two policemen then loaded Chapman into their car for a trip to the 20th Precinct.

As police rushed Mr. Lennon to Roosevelt Hospital a mile away, Mr. Weiss was already there. The TV news producer’s motorcycle had collided with a taxi at about 10 p.m., and he was awaiting X-rays.

The emergency room doors opened with a crash as a half-dozen police officers burst through, carrying a stretcher with the victim. Doctors and nurses flew into action. Two of the cops paused alongside Mr. Weiss’ gurney.

“Jesus, can you believe it?” one asked. “John Lennon.”

Mr. Weiss was incredulous. Five minutes passed, and Mr. Weiss heard a strangled sound.

“I twist around, and there is Yoko Ono in a full-length fur coat on the arm of a police officer, and she’s sobbing,” he said. Mr. Weiss persuaded a cop to let him use a hospital phone, and he reached the WABC-TV assignment editor with his tip at about 11 p.m.

The editor confirmed a reported shooting at Mr. Lennon’s address. Mr. Weiss returned to his gurney, watching in disbelief as the doctors frantically worked on the victim — while the Muzak played an early Beatles hit, “All My Loving.”

“The song ends. And within a minute or two, I hear a scream: ‘No, oh no, no no no,’” Mr. Weiss said. “The door opens, and Yoko comes out crying hysterically.”

The duty of informing the widow that her husband was dead had fallen to Dr. Lynn. Mr. Weiss’ tip was confirmed and given to Howard Cosell, who told the nation of Mr. Lennon’s death during “Monday Night Football.”

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