AP: TODAY IN HISTORY – On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was shot and killed while standing on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; his slaying was followed by a wave of rioting (Washington, DC, Baltimore and Chicago were among cities particularly hard hit). James Earl Ray later pleaded guilty to assassinating King, then spent the rest of his life claiming he’d been the victim of a setup.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is seen here with Rev. Jesse Jackson, left, just prior to his final public appearance to address striking Memphis sanitation workers on April 4, 1968.  King was assassinated later that day outside his motel room.  (AP Photo/Charles Kelly)

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr is seen here with Rev. Jesse Jackson, left, just prior to his final public appearance to address striking Memphis sanitation workers on April 4, 1968. King was assassinated later that day outside his motel room – AP Photo/Charles Kelly

On this date:

In 1973, the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center were officially dedicated.

In 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves tied Babe Ruth’s home-run record by hitting his 714th round-tripper in Cincinnati.

In 1975, more than 130 people, most of them children, were killed when a US Air Force transport plane evacuating Vietnamese orphans crash-landed shortly after takeoff from Saigon.

In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger roared into orbit on its maiden voyage. (It was destroyed in the disaster of January 1986.)

The space shuttle Challenger leaves the Kennedy Space Station, April 4, 1983, in a blast of smoke as it was launched on schedule.  It is the first trip into space for the Challenger and the sixth mission of the shuttle program.  (AP Photo)

The space shuttle Challenger leaves the Kennedy Space Station, April 4, 1983, in a blast of smoke as it was launched on schedule. It is the first trip into space for the Challenger and the sixth mission of the shuttle program – AP Photo

Hank Aaron completes his swing in the first inning at Cincinnati Thursday, April 4, 1974, as he hit his 714th career home run to tie the all time record set by Babe Ruth.  (AP Photo/Harry Harris)

Hank Aaron completes his swing in the first inning at Cincinnati Thursday, April 4, 1974, as he hit his 714th career home run to tie the all time record set by Babe Ruth – AP Photo/Harry Harris

In 2012, a federal judge sentenced five former New Orleans police officers to prison for the deadly Danziger Bridge shootings in the chaotic days following Hurricane Katrina. (The verdicts in the case were later set aside by the judge, who cited prosecutorial misconduct; the officers pleaded guilty in 2016 to reduced charges.)

In 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina, Walter Scott, a 50-year-old Black motorist, was shot to death while running away from a traffic stop; Officer Michael Thomas Slager, seen in a cellphone video opening fire at Scott, was charged with murder. (The charge, which lingered after a first state trial ended in a mistrial, was dropped as part of a deal under which Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.)

In 2018, saying the situation had reached “a point of crisis,” President Donald Trump signed a proclamation directing the deployment of the National Guard to the US-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration.

In 2022, President Joe Biden called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be tried for war crimes after what he described as “outrageous” atrocities around Kyiv during the invasion of Ukraine.

In 2023, Prosecutors unsealed a historic 34-count felony indictment of Donald Trump that said he conspired to illegally influence the 2016 election through a series of hush money payments designed to stifle claims that could be harmful to his candidacy.