A Radio Shocker
San Francisco Chronicle - Sept. 29, 1973, front page
Jim Dunbar Is Shot At
While He's On the Air
A deranged young gunman fired three shots at Jim Dunbar's head yesterday while the talk show host was conducting a radio interview, shortly after 10 a.m., at KGO's studio at 277 Golden Gate avenue.
Although the gunman was just a few feet away when he fired, the bullets were deflected by a bulletproof glass window between the studio and the sidewalk outside.
Dunbar, a popular radio personality and host of KGO-TV's morning interview program, "A.M.," shouted to an aide to telephone police as the gunman ran inside the station's offices.
"Hey, will you guys call the cops on that? . . ." his listeners heard Dunbar say. "Whew! I just had a man take a shot at me."
Once inside the station, the gunman shot Ben Munson, 47, an advertising account executive for KGO radio.
Then, with several executives in pursuit, the youth passed Dunbar's view twice before heading for Hyde street.
The young man shot himself in the head outside Hastings College of the Law and died two hours later at San Francisco General Hospital. Munson, the advertising executive, was in critical condition early today.
Munson, a KGO employee for 14 years, lives in San Rafael with his wife and five children.
Homicide Inspector Hobert Nelson identified the gunman as Lawrence Kwong, 25, who lived at the Westside Lodge, a psychiatric rehabilitation center at 1000 Fulton street.
KGO officials said last night they had been notified by the center that Kwong apparently held a gnawing grudge against Dunbar.
In a California street apartment he occupied until six months ago, he had scrawled: "Dunbar is an evil S.O.B. and has to be done away with."
Dunbar had just completed an hour's discussion with Congressman Jerome Waldie and was getting into an interview with Steven Wasserman of the National Lawyers Guild when the shooting began.
Waldie had left the station and was in his automobile with the radio turned to KGO when he heard Dunbar's shouts over the air.
"I had had a feeling that guy was dangerous," Waldie said later. "He kept walking past the window and he looked strange like he was high on something.
"At one point, Jim (Dunbar) waved to him and he smiled back."
Waldie said he had mentioned his impression of Kwong to Dunbar, who replied, "I don't like the looks of that man either, but don't worry there's five inches of bulletproof glass between us."
So Dunbar and the Democratic congressman had continued with their discussion of Vice President Spiro Agnew.
When Kwong later pulled out his .22-caliber pistol and began firing, right at Dunbar's head, Dunbar shouted for assistants to call police.
Kwong encountered Munson right inside the station door. Five shots were heard. One of those apparently lodged in Kwong's own left leg.
Bob Benson, the station's operations director, heard the shots "they sounded like firecrackers," he said and came out to see what was going on.
Accompanied by two other KGO executives, Ron Denman and Al Racco, Benson followed Kwong out the door to Golden Gate avenue.
Kwong staggered around, changed directions a couple of times, then ran to Hyde street and around the corner.
As the three from KGO pursued him, a messenger, standing next to his bicycle, shouted, "Don't go after him; he's just reloaded."
Denman carefully went around the corner while, a block away, at Hyde and McAllister, outside Hastings College of the Law, Kwong put the gun to his own head, pulled the trigger and fell to the ground.
Denman walked over to him and kicked the gun away.
Benson said neither he nor anyone else at the radio station had any idea why Kwong wanted to shoot Dunbar.
"As far as I can tell, he was just an isolated psycho," said Benson.
The station went into three minutes of commercials after the shooting began. When live programming returned, listeners heard the voice of Gregg Jordan, KGO's sports director.
"I'm a little shaky," Dunbar had said. "I don't feel like going back in there right now."
At about noon, Dunbar spoke to reporters.
"I had the feeling there was something peculiar about this guy," Dunbar said. "He kept appearing and he was shaking. It made me uneasy."
When Kwong fired at him, Dunbar said, "it sounded like somebody rapping on the glass."
The glass cracked, but didn't shatter.
Inspector Nelson, investigating Kwong's background, said the young man once had been treated at San Francisco General Hospital for some sort of mental problem.
Westside Lodge is one of the services of Westside Community Mental Health Center.
Dr. William D. Pierce, director of the mental health center, said the service is run by Pacific Medical Center.
Dr. Allen Enelow, chief of psychiatry at Pacific Medical Center, said he was prohibited by law from discussing a patient or a patient's medical history.
Dr. Enelow said, however, that Westside Lodge handles patients who have been in hospitals for treatment and are "presumed to be recovering."
It was learned from another source that Kwong was admitted to Westside Lodge after 85 days in St. Mary's Hospital. St. Mary's Hospital acknowledged Kwong had spent 85 days there but wouldn't say why he was in the hospital.
Kwong was believed to have a brother living somewhere on the Peninsula. Homicide Lieutenant Charles Ellis said that was being checked out.
KGO announced, meanwhile, that Dunbar will be back at work on his programs today.
KGO radio said last night that Kwong's mother is in a mental hospital in Hong Kong.
The station also said Kwong believed "KGO radio was controlling his mind. He once went to Hawaii to get away from KGO radio," one of his fellow patients said.
A private detective, John Immendorf, said he was contacted six months ago by Kwong, who told him he had been kidnapped and that a transmitter had been implanted in his stomach.
Kwong wanted Immendorf to investigate the station, because the signals from his stomach could only be picked up by KGO, he claimed.
Dunbar, 42, came to KGO radio in March 1963 from WLS, the American Broadcasting Company's station in Chicago.
He came here as the station's program director and four months later took over as host of a talk show. He began doubling on Channel 7 television in January 1966.
Dunbar grew up in Detroit, is a graduate of Michigan State College, and worked on radio stations in Detroit, East Lansing, Mich., Manhattan, Kan., and New Orleans, before moving to Chicago.