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Reagan Assassination Attempt

Ronald Reagan

Reagan Assassination Attempt: Ronald Reagan was the 40th American President who served in office from January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989. One of the important events during his presidency was the Reagan assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr.

Definition and Summary of the Reagan Assassination Attempt
Summary and definition:
The Reagan Assassination Attempt was made by John Hinckley, Jr. on March 30, 1981 as President Ronald Reagan left the Hilton hotel in Washington D.C.

During the assassination attempt John Hinckley, Jr. fired six shots wounding the president and and three other men including the president's press secretary Jim Brady. A bullet punctured President Reagan's lung but, miraculously, the bullet malfunctioned and failed to explode on impact.

The bullet was lodged just one inch away from the president's heart. John Hinckley, Jr. made the Reagan assassination attempt in a misguided effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. John Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21, 1982 and confined at St. Elizabeth's federally operated psychiatric hospital in Washington D.C. The Reagan assassination attempt was played down by the government and president himself remarked to his wife "Honey I forgot to Duck". 

When was Ronald Reagan Shot? The Reagan Assassination Attempt occured on March 30, 1981, just two months after the President's inauguration

Where was the Reagan Assassination Attempt? The Reagan Assassination Attempt took place at 2:25 p.m. as the President left a hotel in Washington D.C.

Who was the president shot by? The President was shot by John Hinckley, Jr.

Why did John Hinckley shoot the president? John Hinckley, Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan in a misguided attempt to impress Hollywood actress Jodie Foster

Facts about Reagan Assassination Attempt
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Reagan Assassination Attempt.

Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th American President on January 20, 1981, with George H. W. Bush as Vice President. Just 69 days into his presidency, on March 30, 1981, he was subject to an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr.

On March 21, 1981, just nine days before the assassination attempt,  the new President and his wife Nancy, visited Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. where the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln had taken place on April 14, 1865.

On March 30, 1981 the president delivered a luncheon address to union representatives at the Washington Hilton Hotel. He then made his way to presidential limousine via the secure, enclosed passageway called "President's Walk", which had been built after the JFK Assassination in 1963. 

Waiting outside the hotel was an unscreened crowd of supporters and representatives from the media lining the 30 feet walk to his waiting limousine. The unscreened crowd consisting of about 300 peoplewere standing 15 ft (4.6 m) from the president, separated by just a rope line.

At 2:25 p.m., as the president was approaching his limousine, a member of the cheering and waving crowd, John Hinckley, Jr., fired a Rohm RG-14 .22 long rifle blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds. The gun had been purchased by John Hinckley ten days earlier on October 13, 1980 in Dallas, Texas.

One of the bullets hit the president in the left side of his chest by a bullet that had ricocheted off a panel of the limousine. Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr pushed the President, body-sheltered by Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, into the presidential limousine.

The President initially  thought that Jerry Parr had broken one of his ribs when he pushed him into the car but then the agent noticed that the President was having difficulty breathing and bright frothy blood began to come from his mouth.

Timothy McCarthy took a bullet shielding the president and was shot in the abdomen. Timothy McCarthy later received the NCAA Award of Valor in 1982in recognition of his bravery during the assassination attempt.

Thomas Delahanty, a District of Columbia police officer, was hit in the back of his neck as he turned to protect the president. Delahanty fell to the ground next to White House Press Secretary James Brady. Delahanty was later cited for heroism for his effort to protect the President, and was forced to retire from the Washington police force due to his disability.

James Brady had been shot in the head above his left eye and was seriously wounded. Brady was paralyzed on the left side of his body until his death aged 73 on August 4, 2014, when authorities declared his death a homicide.

Following the shooting the president was rushed by limousine to the George Washington Hospital. McCarthy and Brady were taken to the same hospital by ambulance and Thomas Delahanty was rushed to the Washington Hospital Center.

John Hinckley, Jr. was immediately subdued by secret service and police officers and taken to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). John Hinckley was turned over to the FBI and charged with the attempted assassination of the President.

John Hinckley, Jr., was born May 29, 1955, in Ardmore, Oklahoma and was raised in Texas and had undergone psychiatric treatment for depression.

John Hinckley became obsessed with the 1976 movie 'Taxi Driver' in which the lead character Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, plotted to assassinate a presidential candidate. His interest in the movie also extended to an unhealthy interest in the JFK Assassination.

His obsession with 'Taxi Driver' led John Hinckley to develop an infatuation with actress Jodie Foster, who played a child prostitute in the movie. John Hinckley began to stalk Jodie Foster when she attended Yale University, invading her privacy, slipping love poems and notes under her door, and repeatedly making telephone calls to her at the university.

John Hinckley Jr. had rented room number 312 at the Park Central Hotel on March 29, 1980, the day before the Reagan assassination attempt.

A search of the room uncovered numerous items of evidence against John Hinckley including a love letter to Jodie Foster in which he stated he was going to kill President Reagan as an expression of his love for her. Refer to the John Hinckley Letter to Jodie Foster

Dr. Joseph Giordano headed the trauma team and played a key role in saving the President’s life at George Washington University Hospital.

Dr. Benjamin Aaron was head of GW’s cardiovascular and thoracic and made the decision to operate on President Ronald Reagan when the bleeding from the President’s chest would not stop. The President was then taken to the operating room where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet.

After John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, the Vice President, George H. W. Bush was immediately flown on Air Force Two to Washington from Texas. Bush was advised to proceed directly to the White House by helicopter, but he rejected the idea, responding, “Only the President lands on the South Lawn.” Vice President Bush reacted to the crisis calmly and was ready to face any events that might lay ahead.

The Reagan assassination attempt by John Hinckley did not deter the President. He left hospital four days after being shot. He never lost his sense of humor and after the shooting famously said to his wife Nancy, "Honey I forgot to Duck".

On April 28, 1981, less than a month after the shooting, President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress on his economic program. 

John Hinckley Jr. went to trial in 1982, charged with 13 offenses. After seven weeks of testimony and three days of deliberation by the jury, John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21, 1982.

John Hinckley Jr. was confined at St. Elizabeths federally operated psychiatric hospital in Washington D.C., where he remains to this day.

In 1987 letters were found in his room that showed he continued his deep obsession with Jodie Foster. Federal prosecutors have consistently opposed the release of John Hinckley.

President Reagan went on to serve in office until January 20, 1989 and is one of the most popular Presidents of the United States

US American History
1945-1993: Cold War Era
John Hinckley Letter to Jodie Foster

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