Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Thirty-four years ago today, March 30, 1981, President Ronald Wilson Reagan was shot as he left a speaking engagement at the Hilton Hotel here in the Nation's Capital.
The President and three others were shot by John Hinckley, Jr.* who was immediately taken into custody. The assassination attempt, which came just 69 days into Mr. Reagan's first term, took place at 2:27 p.m. Eastern time as the president, accompanied by aides and Secret Service agents, exited the hotel.
Six shots were fired from a Rohm RG-14 .22 caliber pistol. Special Agent Jerry Parr of the United States Secret Service pushed Reagan into the back of the Presidential car in an attempt to get him out of the line of fire while Special Agent Timothy McCarthy, placing his body in front of the President, took a bullet in the abdomen.
The other victims included James Brady, Reagan's Press Secretary and Special Agent Thomas Delahanty.President Reagan was taken to nearby George Washington University Hospital.
After getting out of his car, the President's legs became wobbly and he was taken into the hospital where he was attended by a surgical team headed by Dr. Joseph Giordano.
Mr. Reagan, who had been given 4.5 units of blood, was wheeled into surgery at 3:24 p.m. Although groggy, President Reagan was able to say to the doctors...
"I hope you are all Republicans." Dr. Giordano replied..."Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans."
Reagan, who would become known as "The Great Communicator," was also able to paraphrase movie comedian W.C. Fields'..."All in all, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."
During a very tense surgery, doctors located a bullet in Mr. Reagan's lung just an inch from his heart. Thanks to the quick action by the Secret Service and the talent and training of the medical staff at George Washington University, President Reagan recovered.In his book "Reagan's America: Innocents at Home," Garry Wills writes...
"The grace and humor Reagan showed after the attempt to assassinate him...added a mythical quality to his leadership, revealing his character in a way that made it almost impossible to dislike him."
Ronald Reagan, who was the first president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt, was hit by the sixth bullet which ricocheted off the side of the armored vehicle and entered under the left arm. The bullet grazed a rib and lodged in a lung.
President Reagan was able to return to the Oval Office on April 25, 1981, but James Brady, who suffered a serious head injury, was left permanently disabled. Agent Delahanty was forced to retire due to his wound.
John Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 1, 1992. The motivation for the crime was determined to be Hinkley's fanatical obsession with actress Jodie Foster.
June 19, 2012