Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr released from Washington DC mental hospital after 35 years

Hinckley will live at his 90-year-old mother’s home on a golf course in Virginia, in a bedroom decorated with his paintings of cats

Hinckley, pictured in 2003, was was obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver and its young star Jodie Foster, is thought to have been trying to impress the actress when he shot Reagan
Hinckley, pictured in 2003, was was obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver and its young star Jodie Foster, is thought to have been trying to impress the actress when he shot Reagan

The man who shot US President Ronald Reagan in 1981 has been released from a psychiatric hospital in Washington, DC, 35 years after his assassination attempt stunned the world. John Hinckley Jr, who is now 61, was released from St Elizabeth’s hospital on Saturday morning and returned to his mother’s home in Virginia.

Mr Reagan and three others were injured in the shooting outside a Washington hotel on 30 March 1981, weeks into his first White House term. Mr Hinckley, who was obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver and its young star Jodie Foster, is thought to have been trying to impress the actress. He was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.

In July, after several decades of treatment at St Elizabeth’s, a judge ruled that Mr Hinckley posed no further danger to himself or to the public. In recent years, he had been spending 17 days a month at his 90-year-old mother’s home, on a golf course in the gated community of Kingsmill, where his bedroom is reportedly decorated with his paintings of houses and cats.

Under the conditions of his release, Mr Hinckley will be forbidden to speak to the media and from having any social media accounts. He is banned from contacting Ms Foster or any of his other victims and their families. He must see a psychiatrist regularly and will be permitted to drive no further than 30 miles from the home unaccompanied – or 50 miles if accompanied.

He is also required to work or volunteer three days a week, and has been offered a job at a local church, according to court documents. After a year at his mother’s home, he will be allowed to live alone or with housemates. If he violates the terms of his release, the judge said he could be returned to St Elizabeth’s.

Mr Reagan was shot in the lung during the assassination attempt but recovered. A Secret Service Agent and a Washington DC police officer were also hit but sustained only minor injuries. However, the president’s press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the head, suffering brain damage that confined him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Mr Brady and his wife Sarah Brady became committed gun control campaigners following the shooting, and gun control organisation the Brady Campaign was named in their honour. When Mr Brady passed away in 2014 at 73, his death was ruled a homicide, though Mr Hinckley faced no further charges for the killing.

Mr Reagan publicly forgave Mr Hinckley and even sought a meeting with his would-be assassin, but was advised by doctors that such an encounter would hinder the gunman’s recovery. Mr Hinckley’s lawyer Barry Levine has said his client will now be a “citizen about whom we can all be proud,” adding: “People of goodwill should celebrate his achievement and success."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in