On March 30, 1981, United States President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest and wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington, D.C. Reagan had just finished addressing a labor meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel, when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots at the president, hitting Reagan and three of his attendants. The three attendants shot were White House Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahanty. Of the three attendants wounded, all survived, but Brady suffered permanent brain damage.
President Reagan was unaware he had been shot until he was pushed into his limousine to head to the hospital. He was witty and in good spirits the entire time, cracking jokes like: “Please tell me you’re Republicans,” to his surgeons. The next day, the president resumed some of his executive duties and signed a piece of legislation from his hospital bed. On April 11, he returned to the White House.
Below are the top newscasts from the day President Reagan was shot:
In a video from the AP Archive, viewers can see original footage from the assassination attempt as Reagan stood outside his limousine surrounded by Secret Service and other officials. Reagan was quickly pushed into the limo his caravan sped away from the scene.
Following the assassination attempt, the White House staff held a press briefing to deliver remarks and answer the media’s questions on the situation and President Reagan’s health. Officials confirmed Reagan was shot in the left side, and his medical team was trying to determine whether or not to operate to remove the bullet.
On PBS News Hour, actress Jodi Foster discussed the letters she received from Hinckley. In the 1970s, Hinckley began stalking actress Jodie Foster. When attempting to assassinate Reagan in 1981, he wanted to impress Foster.
In 2016, NBC News’ Pete Williams reported that John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, would be released from the mental hospital under certain conditions.