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John Hinckley Jr: President Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin fully released 41 years after shooting | US News


The man who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan has been fully released 41 years after the shooting.

John Hinckley Jr, now 67, seriously wounded the US president during an attack in 1981.

He spent decades in a Washington mental health unit having been acquitted by reason of insanity at a trial in 1982.

President Ronald Reagan being shoved into his limousine after being shot by Hinckley. Pic: AP

Now he has been freed from court oversight, officially ending ongoing supervision by legal and mental health professionals, after doctors who examined Hinckley said the risk of him committing violence was remote, and federal prosecutors agreed.

Hinckley Jr posted on Twitter: “After 41 years, 2 months and 15 days, freedom at last!”

Restrictions were expected to be lifted from September last year.

US District Court judge Paul L. Friedman earlier said he would free Hinckley Jr on 15 June if he remained mentally stable in the community in Virginia, where he has lived since 2016.

Restrictions including limits on social media have been gradually eased, with Hinckley Jr now acquiring more than 28,000 followers on Twitter.

During a hearing on 1 June, Judge Friedman said Hinckley had shown no signs of active mental illness since the mid-1980s – and has demonstrated no violent behaviour or interest in weapons.

“I am confident that Mr Hinckley will do well in the years remaining to him,” the judge said.

Referring to the battle between lawyers representing the US government and Hinckley over how much freedom he should be granted, Judge Friedman said there is now unanimous agreement.

“It took us a long time to get here,” he said.

“This is the time to let John Hinckley move on with his life, so we will.”

Hinckley Jr became a household name after taking aim at the 40th US president and three others outside a Washington hotel.

Mr Reagan quickly recovered after surgery for a punctured lung.

However his press secretary Jim Brady was left with permanent disabilities after the first of six bullets Hinckley fired hit his head, shattering the brain cavity.

An artist impression of Hinckley Jr and his parents in court in 2004 Pic: AP
An artist impression of Hinckley Jr and his parents in court in 2004. Pic: AP

Reagan biographer, HW Brands, said: “If Hinckley had succeeded in killing Reagan, then he would have been a pivotal historical figure.

“As it is, he is a misguided soul whom history has already forgotten.”

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President Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, opposed Hinckley’s release, branding him a narcissist who she did not believe felt remorse.


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