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Published on Jan 7, 2011
THE GUY John Warnock Hinckley, Jr., (born May 29, 1955) attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981, as the culmination of an effort to impress teen actress Jodie Foster, He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained under institutional psychiatric care since then. THE STORY Hinckley became obsessed with the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which a disturbed protagonist, Travis Bickle ( played by Robert De Niro) 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. In frustration, he wrote to Jodie: Over the past seven months, I have left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times, I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself. The reason I am going ahead with this attempt now is that I cannot wait any longer to impress you. THE SPOT On March 30, 1981, at approximately 1:30 pm local time, Hinckley shot a .22 caliber Rohm RG-14 revolver six times at Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. after addressing a conference. THE CONSEQUENCE 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 his 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. During his trial, Hinckley wrote that the shooting was "the greatest love offering in the history of the world," and was upset that Foster did not reciprocate his love. THE CONTROVERSY Hinckley's father was a financial supporter of George H.W. Bush's 1980 presidential primary campaign, where Bush was Reagan's closest rival for the Republican nomination prior to becoming his Vice President. Hinckley's older brother, Scott, had a dinner date scheduled at the home of Neil Bush the day after the Reagan assassination attempt. Neil's wife Sharon indicated in a newspaper interview the day after the shooting that Scott was coming to their house as a date of a girlfriend of hers, and that she did not "know the brother [John]" but understood "that he was the renegade brother in the family." Sharon described the Hinckleys as "a very nice family" and that they had "given a lot of money to the Bush campaign.