Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan

Exactly 29 years ago on 30th March 1981, the world was stunned when Ronald Reagan, the then 40th. President of the United States was shot by a lone and deranged gunman, John Hinckley Jr. The mentally unstable Hinckley apparently did that unthinkable act for one crazy and mad reason - to impress his woman - popular US Actress Jodie Foster.

Reagan, the former movie star, survived the assassination attempt and continued as the most powerful man on earth and number one man at the White House until 1989. Reagan died of natural cause on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93.

Hinckley is of course locked up in jail until now and the love of his life - Jodie Foster continued to be a successful box-office actress without even giving a damn on Hinckley.

The assassination attempt occurred on March 30, 1981, just 69 days into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. While leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by Hinckley.

Reagan at that time, 70 years old, suffered a punctured lung, but prompt medical attention allowed him to recover quickly despite his age. At that time, the vice president was George Bush Sr.

We know that 2 US Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy died after being assassinated. Lincoln was shot by on April 1865 by John Wilkes Booth and Kennedy was snipered to death on November 22nd, 1963 by unknown gunman/gunmen, albeit the blame was put on Lee Harvey Oswald, who insisted his innocence until Oswald himself was shot by Jack Ruby before Oswald could stand trial.

The March 30th, 1981 event that stunned the world started on before 2:30 PM local time, as Reagan walked out of the hotel's T Street North West exit toward his waiting car, surrounded by of course secret services agents and police officers.

Despite the tight security, Hinckley, emerged from the crowd of admirers and fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 calibre blue steel revolver six times in a span of three seconds.

The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head.The second hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back. The third overshot the president and hit the window of a building across the street. The fourth hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen. The fifth hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open side door of the president's limousine.

The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the side of the limousine and hit the president in his left armpit, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly an inch from his heart.

Secret Service agents sprang into action, rushing at Hinckley with guns drawn and pulling him to the ground. Agent Dennis McCarthy dove onto Hinckley as others threw him to the ground. Secret Service agent Robert Wanko took an Uzi from a briefcase and used it to cover the Presidential Limousine's evacuation.

Sixteen minutes after the assassination attempt, the ATF found that the gun had been purchased at Rocky's Pawn Shop in Dallas, Texas. It had been loaded with six "Devastator"-brand .22LR cartridges, which contained small lead azide explosive charges designed to explode on contact. The rounds were not manufactured in the U.S. because any bullet which contained actual explosives would have been classified as an illegal explosive device under U.S. federal law.

All six bullets failed to explode. One wonder what happened next if the lone bullet that hit Reagan, exploded. Who will be the next president? Will Sadam Hussein still be alive? Will Barack Obama be the current US President?? We don't know.

Who was to blame for the serious security breach that it was so easy for someone to just stand near the President (the most powerful man in the world) and shoot him at close range?? The secret service agents? The local police? The FBI ? The CIA ? or Jodie Foster??

The entire incident was captured on video by at least five cameramen, including all of the major broadcast networks.

Hinckley even had the gut to ask the arresting officers whether that night's Academy Awards ceremony would be postponed due to the shooting, and indeed it was — it aired the next evening. Screw him!!

President Reagan was swiftly taken to the nearby George Washington University Hospital.

Dr Joseph Giordano, treated Reagan with intravenous fluids, oxygen, tetanus toxoid, and chest tubes.

President Reagan was known as a very charismatic and humorous US President who ever lived. Despite in great pain and his life in grave danger, Reagan told his wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan who arrived in the emergency room "Honey, I forgot to duck."

Reagan lost over half of his blood volume, so an emergency surgery was unevitable.

In the operating room, just before surgery Reagan again joked, "Please tell me you're all Republicans." To which Giordano, a liberal Democrat, replied, "Today Mr. President we're all Republicans."!!!!!!!!!!

The operation took 3 hours and Reagan lived.

Young Reagan as a Hollywood movie star

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21, 1982. The defense psychiatric reports had found him to be insane, while the prosecution reports declared him legally sane.Following his lawyers' advice, he declined to take the stand in his own defense.Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he is still being held.

After his trial, he wrote that the shooting was "the greatest love offering in the history of the world", and did not indicate any regrets. (i personally feel that Hinckley should be shot with a Machine Gun right between his eyes for what he did, but sometimes justice is blind and justice is injustice)

The motivation behind Hinckley's attack stemmed from an obsession with Jodie Foster due to erotomania. While living in Hollywood in the late 1970s, Hinckley saw the film Taxi Driver at least 15 times, apparently identifying strongly with Travis Bickle, the lead character played by who else but the Supa Dupa Robert De Niro.

The arc of the story involves Bickle's attempts to protect a 12-year-old child prostitute, played by Foster, toward the end of the film, Bickle attempts to assassinate a United States Senator who is running for president.

Over the following years, Hinckley trailed Foster around the country, going so far as to enroll in a writing course at Yale University in 1980 when he learned that she was a student there after reading an article in People magazine. He wrote numerous letters and notes to her and called her twice and refused to give up when she indicated that she was not interested in him.

Convinced that by becoming a national figure he would be Foster's equal, Hinckley began to stalk then-President Jimmy Carter — his decision to target presidents was also likely inspired by Taxi Driver who shot a US Presidential candidate.

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