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RFK Jr once claimed he was shot at with arrows in Peru. His traveling companions tell a different story

Independent presidential candidate and conspiracy theorist Robert F Kennedy Jr has said many wild things over the years.

But it seems one especially dramatic tale he told four decades ago might be just a fantasy.

In the 1984 book The Kennedys: An American Drama, the political dynasty heir regaled a story about a time he said he was shot at with bows and arrows by Indigenous people while traveling in Peru.

RFK Jr claims that the ambush unfolded while they rafted along a river.

One of his friends was almost hit in the leg by an arrow, he claims – prompting him and his cousin Christopher Kennedy Lawford to heroically leap into action.

RFK Jr and Mr Kennedy Lawford lit a stick of dynamite and threw it at their attackers, causing them to retreat, the story goes.

“Lawford was standing there holding it, telling me to hurry,” Bobby recalled later, the book reads.

“We could hear the Indians coming at us through the bush. We put a blasting cap and a fuse on the dynamite. As the Indian who’d shot at us stepped out on the bank of the river, I lit the dynamite. Lawford held it until the fuse had almost burned down, then threw it. It landed in the water right next to the Indian.

“Then it exploded, sending water thirty feet in the air. He and all the rest of them took off.”

But RFK Jr’s traveling companions have told a somewhat different story.

Independent US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr speaks at the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC, on Friday 24 May 2024
Independent US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr speaks at the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC, on Friday 24 May 2024 (Kevin Dietsch/Getty)

As HuffPost first reported, Blake Kenneduy – a longtime friend who was on the rafting trip with RFK Jr – dismissed the tale almost as soon as the 1984 book was published.

Mr Fleetwood told The Washington Post at the time that the attack “never occurred” and that many of RFK Jr’s claims in the book were “just fantasy”.

Lawford, who died in 2018, also offered a far less dramatic version of events in his own 2005 book Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption.

“We floated by Indian villages, once having to avoid the arrows being shot in our direction by a drunken tribe on the shore,” he wrote.

The book’s authors previously said that RFK Jr “had a bit of an agenda” in his cooperation with them on the book – claiming that he “had a twisted mind.”

The Independent has contacted the Kennedy campaign for comment.

Fictitious or real, the story is far from the only wild thing that RFK Jr has said as he tries to compete with Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican former president Donald Trump in the November election.

The son of US attorney general and senator Robert F Kennedy and nephew of president JFK has notoriously touted conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Earlier this month, it emerged that during a 2012 deposition he shared a story about a parasitic worm eating part of his brain and then dying inside his head.

In the deposition, first reported by The New York Times, RFK Jr said he was suffering “cognitive problems” and initially feared he had a brain tumour like his uncle, former Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009.

But after tests, a doctor told him that the dark spot on his brain scans was actually “caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died”.

Last week, he was also accused of lying about his voting address as his Westchester County residence has entered foreclosure and neighbours said they don’t believe he lives there.

Despite his political ambitions, the Kennedy clan has made it clear they don’t support him – and have instead publicly endorsed Mr Biden in the 2024 race.

On Friday, he appeared at the Libertarian Convention where his speech was something of a flop. When the party voted for its nominee on Sunday, he was quickly eliminated.


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