Death in Droves: Famous Assassinations



By: Nathan Chandler

4 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Sometimes murderers act for political reasons -- other times, they kill for bizarre personal reasons. When they take the lives of famous or powerful people, the act can reverberate around the world. How much do you know about these famous assassinations?

John Wilkes Booth shot and killed president Abraham Lincoln. What was Booth's occupation?

Booth was well-known for his stage acting ability. He was also a proponent of the Confederate cause during the Civil War.


How did Lee Harvey Oswald die?

Just three days after Oswald shot JFK, he was shot by a Dallas citizen named Jack Ruby. The event unfolded on live TV as Oswald was being escorted from police headquarters to jail.


John Wilkes Booth and his team originally didn't want to kill Lincoln. What did they plan to do?

Originally, the conspirators planned to kidnap Lincoln and use him to further the Confederate cause. In the end, Booth decided to simply shoot the president in the head.


In which city did assassin James Earl Ray commit a famous murder?

Ray shot Martin Luther King, Jr. with a single rifle bullet as King stood outside his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee. He then fled the scene.


Who did Sirhan Sirhan assassinate?

Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant, was angry about U.S. policies in the Arab-Israeli conflict. He shot Robert Kennedy in June 1968.


Who did Mark David Chapman kill?

Mark David Chapman considered numerous other celebrities, simply because they were famous. In the end, he settled on John Lennon of The Beatles.


Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981. He was the president of which country?

Anwar Sadat was Egypt's president in 1981 and in the middle of a yearly victory parade when he was murdered. He died two hours later in spite of heroic efforts by a huge team of doctors.


A single assassin killed Julius Caesar.

Roman dictator Julius Caesar was reportedly stabbed to death by dozens of senators. His murder sparked civil wars that crippled the country for years.


By what means was Russian Alexander Litvinenko assassinated?

In 2006, Litvinenko died by radiation poisoning. Many reporters suspect that Russian authorities masterminded the killing.


Charles J. Guiteau shot which U.S. president?

Guiteau shot President Garfield in 1881. The president lived for two months but then finally succumbed to his wounds.


Why did Guiteau kill McKinley?

Guiteau was an educated man -- he practiced law -- but he was angry that the president had rejected him for an ambassadorship. So he killed him out of spite.


After being captured and tried for Garfield's murder, what did Guiteau have in mind for his next steps?

Guiteau was enormously egotistical and basked in the attention he received for the killing. He planned on being freed so that he could run for president himself.


A man named Gavrilo Princip committed an assassination that triggered which war?

Princip killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (and his wife), an event that spun Europe into World War I. He died in prison, a victim of tuberculosis.


How did Gavrilo Princip kill Franz Ferdinand?

Princip used an FN Model 1910 semi-automatic handgun to shoot Ferdinand from a range of about five feet. Both Ferdinand and his wife died later at a hospital.


Princip was the first assassin to try to kill Ferdinand on that fateful day.

There were six assassins along Ferdinand's parade route that day. The chaos began when another man lobbed a bomb at the Archduke's car, which then veered away from the scene … and right into Princip's sights.


How many shots did Lee Harvey Oswald fire during the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

As JFK traveled through Dallas in his motorcade, Oswald fired three shots from a mail-order rifle. One shot went wide. The other two seriously wounded Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally. Kennedy died later that day.


Malcolm X was killed during which event?

Malcolm X was giving a speech in New York City when he was shot by three men who were part of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X suffered more than 20 gunshots wounds in the attack.


How was Indian ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi killed?

In 1991, a female suicide bomber approached Gandhi prior to a speech and denoted explosives hidden in her dress. Fifteen peopled died, including Gandhi.


With what weapon did Anwar Sadat's assassins first attack his convoy?

The assassins smuggled hand grenades to the scene and lobbed them towards Sadat's vehicle. Only one exploded -- and harmlessly -- so the men blasted Sadat and his men with machine gun fire.


What happened immediately after Sadat's death?

After Sadat died, rebels launched an uprising in one city, which they controlled for several days. Sadat's assassins were captured and then executed the following year.


Gaetano Bresci assassinated the king of which country?

Bresci killed King Umberto I of Italy in July of 1900, shooting him repeatedly with a pistol. He was an impoverished anarchist who felt as though he would benefit society by killing the king.


Italy sent Gaetano Bresci to prison for killing King Umberto. How long was Bresci imprisoned?

Italy had abolished capital punishment prior to the assassination, so authorities sent Bresci to prison for life. Just one year later he was found dead -- whether by suicide, accident or murder, no one knows.


When she was murdered, Empress Myeongseong was the leader of which country?

Empress Myeongseong was the queen of Korea and she preferred that the country develop ties with Russia instead of Japan. Korean leaders with ties to Japan sent dozens of assassins to her palace and had her killed in 1895.


What happened to Booth after he shot Lincoln?

Booth fled the site of the shootings and escaped Washington by riding away on horseback. He eluded capture for nearly two weeks before being shot to death by pursuers.


Leon Czolgosz shot U.S. President William McKinley twice at point-blank range. How long did McKinley survive following the attack?

One bullet penetrated the president's torso but he held on for eight days. His death meant that Vice President Teddy Roosevelt ascended to the presidency.


Leon Czolgosz's beliefs in what subject drove him to kill McKinley?

Czolgosz was an avowed anarchist who believed that America's social structure allowed the rich to prey on the poor. The assassin felt as though he was fighting for poorer Americans.


Czolgosz was found guilty of murder and executed. How was he killed?

The electric chair was a fairly recent innovation in 1901, when Czolgosz was executed. Authorities performed autopsies on the body and then buried it on prison grounds.


To which country did James Earl Ray NOT flee during his two months on the lam?

Ray went to Canada and then flew to England and Portugal. He was finally apprehended in the London airport when he tried to use a fake passport to board another flight.


With what sort of weapon did Sirhan Sirhan kill Robert Kennedy?

Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy with a dinky .22 caliber pistol, but few humans could withstand three blasts at close range. Kennedy died about a day later.


After being convicted, Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death by which means?

A judge sentenced Sirhan Sirhan to death by gas chamber … but his sentence was ultimately commuted to life in prison. He is still imprisoned in California, decades after the killing.


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