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This Day in History: President Ronald Reagan Assasination Attempt

Published By
U.S. Secret Service Media Relations
Published Date

(Washington, D.C.) On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan had just spoken to
representatives of the Building Construction Trades Union at the Washington Hilton Hotel in
Washington, D.C., when John Hinckley Jr., attempted to assassinate him.

As President Reagan came outside to enter his limousine, Hinckley, who had positioned himself
among a group of reporters and photographers covering the departure, began shooting at the
President. In quick response to the shots, Special Agent in Charge Jerry Parr pushed the President
into the limousine. As the limousine sped away to the White House, Parr examined the President
and noticed blood trickling from his mouth. From his extensive training, Parr knew the President
needed immediate medical attention, so he directed the motorcade to re-route to The George
Washington University Hospital. Upon arrival, doctors determined that the President had been
shot beneath his left arm pit, and rushed him into emergency surgery to remove the bullet.

The entire incident happened in a matter of seconds. A civilian jumped on Hinckley from behind
when he realized what was happening. Secret Service agents and members of the Washington, D.C.
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) quickly subdued Hinckley.

Hinckley fired six shots during the assault. One bullet hit White House Press Secretary James
Brady in the head, which left him permanently disabled. Another bullet struck MPD Officer
Thomas Delahanty in the neck. Special Agent Tim McCarthy was hit in the abdomen when he
turned to shield the President. Two shots ricocheted off the presidential limousine, and it was one
of those two shots that had hit the President. The sixth shot traveled across the street and
penetrated a nearby window.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of mental illness and was placed in a psychiatric facility in
Washington, D.C.