Hinckley, John Warnock, Jr.
John Hinckley, Jr.
John W. Hinckley, Jr., was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, to John Warnock Hinckley, Sr., and Jo Ann Moore Hinckley.
During his grade school years in Dallas, he played football, basketball, learned to play the piano, and was elected class president twice. After Hinckley graduated in 1973 from his Texas high school, the family moved to Evergreen.
Hinckley became obsessed with the 1976 movie Taxi Driver, in which a disturbed protagonist plots to assassinate a presidential candidate. He watched the film 15 times in a row on a continuous loop. Hinckley developed an infatuation with actress Jodie Foster, who played a child prostitute in the film. When Foster entered Yale University, Hinckley moved to New Haven, Connecticut, for a short time to stalk her. He enrolled in a Yale writing class, and began slipping poems and messages under her door and repeatedly phoning her. Failing to develop any meaningful contact with the actress, Hinckley developed such plots as hijacking an airplane and committing suicide in front of her to get her attention.
Eventually he settled on a scheme to impress her by assassinating the president, with the theory that as a historical figure he would be her equal. Hinckley trailed President Jimmy Carter from state to state, but was arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, on a firearms charge. Penniless, he went home again, and despite psychiatric treatment for depression, his mental health did not improve. He began to target the newly elected president Ronald Reagan in 1981 and started collecting information on the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald, whom he saw as a role model.
On March 30, 1981, at approximately 1:30 pm local time, Hinckley shot a .22 caliber Röhm RG-14 revolver six times at Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., after addressing an AFL-CIO conference. Hinckley wounded press secretary James Brady, police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy. Hinckley did not hit Reagan directly, but seriously wounded him when a bullet ricocheted off the side of the presidential limousine and hit him in the chest. Hinckley did not attempt to flee and was arrested at the scene. All of the shooting victims survived, although Brady, who was hit in the right side of the head, endured a long recuperation period and remains paralyzed on the left side of his body.
At the trial in 1982, charged with 13 offenses, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21. The defense psychiatric reports portrayed him as insane while the prosecution reports saw him as legally sane. Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. He has remained under institutional psychiatric care since then. Public outcry over the verdict led to the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984.
The Hinckley home in Hiwan Golf Club was overrun by media at the time of the assassination attempt. The family relocated to the East Coast to be able to be supportive of their son during the trial and his hospitalization.