Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon: A WABC-TV special

Bill Ritter Image
Thursday, October 5, 2023
Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon
Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon: A WABC-TV special

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The murder of John Lennon on Dec. 8, 1980, was as devastating as it was shocking. And Eyewitness News covered the murder like no other news source, as it happened in our backyard, to a person who was more than just one of the most famous celebrities on Earth - he was our neighbor.

John Lennon lived at the Dakota, just a few blocks from our studio. Employees of Channel 7 considered him a friendly face they'd wave to -- he, Yoko, and their young son, Sean, would shop in the same shops and go for walks on the same streets. At least one ABC employee, Geraldo Rivera, was a close friend of the Lennons.

Our special "Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon," hosted by Bill Ritter, interviews the big players in that story, both in front of the camera -- Geraldo Rivera, Ernie Anastos, John Johnson, Doug Johnson -- to those behind the scenes.

Indeed, we've perhaps never been more of an "Eyewitness" to a story - a Channel 7 producer, Alan Weiss, happened to be at Roosevelt Hospital after a motorcycle-riding injury when the mortally wounded former Beatle was carried in.

Having witnessed the fight to save Lennon, Alan managed to call the news into the WABC assignment desk, where the scanner was blaring about a shooting at the Dakota.

Our John Lennon special will tell the story that shook the world from a perspective you've never seen -- as it happened, moment by moment, through the eyes of Eyewitness News.

Soon, Weiss' news tip would reach Howard Cosell, who would break the news to the nation on ABC's Monday Night Football -- but not before debating whether he should.

At Channel 7, the newsroom was a whirlwind as the nightmarish story developed, and Ernie Anastos and Rose Ann Scamardella prepared to go on the air after the game.

The next week that followed, culminating in a historic tribute vigil in Central Park was unlike any other in New York, America -- or the Eyewitness newsroom.

Our John Lennon special tells the story that shook the world from a perspective you've never seen -- as it happened, moment by moment, with rare or just-discovered historical footage, all through the eyes of Eyewitness News.

"Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon" is NOW STREAMING on ABC7's streaming apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV. To stream, search "ABC7 New York" in the app store.


Bill Ritter | Writer, Anchor

Kim Dillon | Senior Executive Producer

Peter Kunz | Senior Executive Producer

Stephen Cioffi | Videographer and Editor

Emily Sowa | Senior Digital Producer, Videographer

Rolando Pujol | Executive Producer, Digital Content, Innovation and Strategy

Bob Monek | Executive Producer Digital, Owned Television Project Manager

Bryan Lenocker | Executive Producer

Dana Bussey | Motion Graphic Designer, Creative Director

Brandon Nelson | Creative Director, Brand

Ysenia Carrizales | Promotion and Digital Content Producer

Toby Hershkowitz | Promotion and Digital Content Producer

Cheryl Meaney | Senior Planning Editor

Erin Donovan | Media Manager

Matt Lamattina | Media Manager

Alycia Russell | Media Manager

David Mulewski | Media Manager

Michael Capello | Media Manager

Brandon Cook | Media Manager

Robert Feldman | Media Manager

Natalie Cioffari | Production Assistant

Laryssa Demkiw | Production Assistant

Jim Gorham | Vice President, Marketing

Chad Matthews | Vice President News, News Director

Debra O'Connell | President, Networks Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution


Alan Weiss

Marilou Yacoub

Ana Maria Braga

Fred Chieco

Joe Coscia

John Johnson

Geraldo Rivera

Doug Johnson

Ernie Anastos

Len Trugman

David Sloan

Alison Lynn

Jennifer Pirone

Janice Johnston

Karyn Rodus

Keira Mccullough

Michele Mustacchio

Townsend Davis


ESPN | Outside the Lines

ABC News 20/20

Alan Weiss

Craig Ruttle