US & Canada

John Hinckley Jr, Reagan's would-be assassin, released after 35 years

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionABC News footage of the moment President Reagan was shot in March, 1981

John Hinckley Jr, the man who tried to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan, has been released from a psychiatric hospital after 35 years.

Mr Reagan and three others were injured in the shooting outside a hotel in Washington in March 1981.

Mr Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity but was sent for treatment to a Washington hospital.

In July, a judge ruled that Mr Hinckley, now 61, was not a danger to himself or the public.

Mr Hinckley had already been spending 17 days a month at his mother's home in Virginia under strict conditions.

Associated Press reported that he had arrived at her home having been freed on Saturday.

Marking 30 years since Reagan's shooting

Life after shooting a US president

Image copyright AP
Image caption John Hinckley Jr was found not guilty due to his psychiatric problems (file photo from 2003)

As part of his release he will:

  • be banned from speaking to the press;
  • have to work three days a week;
  • be allowed to drive no more than 30 miles (48km) from his mother's home, or 50 miles if accompanied;
  • see a psychiatrist two times a month

The shooting, just weeks into Ronald Reagan's presidency, shocked the world.

Mr Reagan was shot in the lung, but recovered.

His press secretary James Brady was shot in the head, suffered brain damage and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Mr Brady's death in 2014 at the age of 73 was ruled to be a homicide, but no further charges against Hinckley were brought.

Two law enforcement officers suffered less serious injuries in the shooting.

US District Judge Paul Friedman's judgement points to medical assessments which showed that Mr Hinckley had had "no symptoms of active mental illness" since 1983.

He had shot the president in an apparent bid to impress the actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had an obsession and whom he had subjected to what would now be termed stalking.


John Hinckley Jr's psychiatric history

Image copyright AP
Image caption John Hinckley Jr (left, seen in 2015) has already been spending a lot of time with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia

The court order and opinion available on the website of the US District Court for the District of Columbia spell out the terms of Mr Hinckley's release, and detail his psychiatric history and treatment:

  • He was diagnosed with acute psychosis, major depression and narcissistic personality disorder
  • He has been in "full, stable and sustained remission" from the first two diagnoses for more than two decades, the court concluded
  • The hospital believes further inpatient treatment is "not appropriate therapeutically" for Mr Hinckley's condition
  • He is banned from contacting any of his victims, or their descendants, and Jodie Foster and her family
  • He and his family are prohibited from talking to the media

Related Topics

More on this story