Martin Luther King arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, to show continued support for a sanitation workers' strike. His arrival set in motion the events that would result in his murder the next day and in the arrest of James Earl Ray more than two months later.
On the morning of April 4, Ray learned from the media that Dr. King was staying in room 306 of the Lorraine Motel. At about 3:30 p.m., he checked into the nearby Bessie Brewer's Rooming House under the name John Willard. He asked to change from room 8 to room 5B, where the bathroom window had a clear line of sight to Dr. King's room. At 4:00, he bought a pair of binoculars from York Arms Company.
At 5:55, Dr. King and Ralph Abernathy came out of their respective hotel rooms on the way to dinner. Dr. King stood on his balcony talking to his driver on the ground below. At 6:01, shots rang out, and Dr. King was badly wounded. Ray immediately left the rooming house.
At 6:03, police received reports of the shooting. At 6:08, a white man was seen fleeing the scene in a white Mustang.
At 6:09, an ambulance carried Dr. King to St. Joseph's Hospital. At 6:16, the ambulance arrived at the hospital. Dr. King was unconscious but alive. At the same time, Ray was in traffic headed for Mississippi. By 6:30, Ray had crossed the Mississippi line.
At 7:05, Dr. King was declared dead. By 8:15, the manhunt for Ray was underway. Riots broke out nationally. The National Guard moved into Memphis.