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John Hinckley Jr. Shoots the President

By Patrick Mondout

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fell victim to an assassination attempt as he left the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Six bullets were fired by John Hinckley striking the President and three other men (Presidential Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas Delahanty).

Fan Mail

Hinckley had a history of stalking people, including President Carter, Reagan, and Jodie Foster. In fact, the investigators later found unsent love letters to Foster and indications that he had been obsessed with her since seeing the movie Taxi Driver and was carrying out the assassination in some perverted attempt to impress her.

Not Guilty!

At his criminal trial, Hinckley presented evidence that he was suffering from a mental disease and that his criminal actions were the result of that disease. On June 21, 1982, the jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. The district court then committed Hinckley to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where he has remained to this day.


After: President Reagan was swiftly taken to the hospital in his limo. Local police officer Thomas Delahanty is on the ground in the foreground and James Brady is behind him (face down).


NARA photo


During the course of his commitment, Hinckley has sought various forms of release from the U.S. District Court. All of these requests were either denied or withdrawn. In addition, in 1987 and 1988, the Hospital asked the district court to release Hinckley into the community under the supervision of Hospital staff, but subsequently withdrew those requests.


Ronald Reagan almost fell prey to the numerologists. Every president elected in a year ending in a zero from 1840 on has died in office - except Reagan (and George Bush Jr., though his term is not over). In fact, Zachary Taylor is the only president not elected in a year ending in zero who did die in office.

1840 - William Harrison (pneumonia)

1860 - Abraham Lincoln (assassinated)

1880 - James Garfield (assassinated)

1900 - William McKinley (assassinated)

1920 - Warren Harding (heart attack)

1940 - Franklin Roosevelt (cerebral hemorrhage)

1960 - John F. Kennedy (assassinated)



Share Your Memories!

Do you have any thoughts you'd like to share about this assassination attempt? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Special Agent Timothy McCarthy, the Secret Service agent shot by John Hinckley in his assassination attempt on President Reagan and visible on the right side of the top picture on this page, lived across the street from me at the time. Within a week of his shooting, he was jogging around our neighborhood, his bandage still visible under his tee shirt."


"I was in high school at the time, and I remember coming back into the building after a run (I was on the track team). Someone told me, "Hey Paul, Reagan's just been shot!" I thought this guy was just putting me on, because he knew how much I liked Reagan. But he kept insisting that it was true. I went inside the locker room, and sure enough, there was the coach and a bunch of the guys hanging around watching the news on this little old black and white TV in the coaches office. I remember being in absolute shock, because Reagan was my hero, the kind of person who said what needed to be heard. I was in a kind of panic that he would die, and we'd end up with some liberal wuss like Jimmy Carter again. Thank GOD, that didn't happen. The whole history of the world might have taken an ominous turn for the worse."


"On the day of the Reagan assassination attempt I was only about 7 years old. I clearly remember the video images of Reagan and his security personel scrambling and falling to the ground because it was shown on the TV all day. But what I remember most is how annoyed I was that the breaking news coverage of that historic event had prempted my favorite TV show, Three's Company. I had no idea how big the story it really was, I just wanted to watch Suzanne Sommers (Crissy)."


"I was coming home from a office training program in Queens, NY when I got home and heard the news. I was shock. I am not a Republican, but I didn't want to see anyone get hurt or killed. My heart went out to him and his family and I had to wish him the best for a full recovery."


"I remember hearing the news in my seventh grade English class. I remember the saddness that I felt to consider that someone would shoot the President."

--Mark Southern

"I remember working in the house with my TV on and heard the news of the shooting I stop what I was doing and cried! I was in shock that anyone would want to hurt President Ragan the best of all Presidents. I wondered if he would live, and was so happy when he did. I loved him as our president."




Hinckley (unseen) is on the right (to the left of and behind the blue and red umbrella).

NARA/Reagan Library Image

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