June 21, 1982: John Hinckley Jr. found not guilty in Ronald Reagan assassination attempt
If you found John Hinckley Jr. on Tinder, you’d probably swipe left and burn your phone. The Oklahoma native was obsessed with Taxi Driver star Jodie Foster. He figured he could win her over by assassinating the president. He tried doing that, and the end result was quite shocking.
Life trying to imitate art
After watching Taxi Driver a billion times, Hinckley Jr. was hellbent on murdering Jimmy Carter in 1980. His plan fell through, however, after being arrested on firearms charges. Returning home, he decided to focus his attention on another president. Ronald Reagan won in a landslide victory over Carter to be the 40th president of the United States. To Hinckley Jr., this would be his moment to shine as some absurd hero.
Bullet with a name on it
On March 30, 1981, Reagan headed to the Washington Hilton Hotel to deliver a speech. Hinckley Jr. mapped out Reagan’s schedule and proceeded to wait until execution time. As Reagan left the hotel, Hinckley Jr. pulled out his revolver and shot six times at the president. While the first five bullets missed Reagan, the last one nearly killed him. The bullet ricocheted off a limousine before entering his lung. Hinckley Jr. couldn’t escape as officials tackled him to the ground and sent him to a local jail. Reagan quickly got surgery to remove the bullet at George Washington University Hospital.
Insane in the brain
The following year, Hinckley Jr. went to court to discover his fate for this dastardly assassination attempt. Many people expected him to serve a long time in jail for his actions. On June 21, 1982, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. As expected, the whole nation was stunned by this decision. Hinckley Jr. would spend 35 years inside Washington D.C.’s St. Elizabeths Hospital before his release in 2016. His release into the public didn’t sit well with many people. “I don’t think that anybody who tries to nullify a national election with a bullet should ever been walking free, no matter what their mental state,” former federal prosecutor Joseph DiGenova told NBC News. After being set free, he’s been living quietly in Virginia. Unfortunately for him, the Secret Service still get random calls about him to this day.