John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate former US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has apologized for his actions but said that he doesn’t remember the emotions he was feeling when he fired the shots because it was ‘another lifetime ago.’
Hinckley Jr, who is looking to launch a music career after being granted a full unconditional release from prison earlier this month, gave a rare interview to CBS News that aired on Tuesday, June 28, on CBS Mornings.
In the interview, he apologized to the victims of his assassination attempt, which wounded Reagan, Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy, police officer Thomas Delahanty, and paralyzed White House press secretary James Brady (he died decades later from his injuries) as they were leaving the Washington Hilton.
‘I feel badly for all of them. I have true remorse for what I did,’ Hinckley told CBS Mornings in his first televised interview since his release. ‘I know that they probably can’t forgive me now, but I just want them to know that I am sorry for what I did.’
When asked about what feelings that led him to commit the act, Hinckley said he can’t remember those emotions and doesn’t want to.
‘It’s such another lifetime ago. I can’t tell you now the emotion I had right as [Reagan] came walking out. I can’t tell you that,’ he said, later adding: ‘It’s something I don’t want to remember.’
Hinckley was 25 and suffering from acute psychosis when he fired a .22 long rifle bullet that ricocheted off the presidential limousine and struck Reagan in the torso, puncturing a lung and causing serious internal bleeding outside a Washington hotel.
The assassination attempt also paralyzed then-Press Secretary James Brady, who died in 2014, and wounded a police officer and a Secret Service agent.
Hinckley was desperate to impress actress Jodie Foster after seeing her in the 1976 movie Taxi Driver.
Jurors found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity and he spent more than 30 years at a mental hospital in Washington.
He told CBS Mornings he truly believes he had ‘serious mental illness that prevented me from knowing right from wrong then.’
‘I was not just a cold, calculating criminal in 1981,’ he said on the show and wants the public’s view of him to ‘soften.’
The would-be assassin said he has been the ‘most scrutinized person in the entire mental health system for 41 years.’
He began making visits to his parent’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia, in the early 2000s. A 2016 court order granted him permission to live with his mother full time, albeit under various restrictions, after experts said his mental illness had been in remission for decades.
He signed a lease on a one-bedroom apartment in the area last year and has been living alone there with his cat Theo, according to court documents. His mother died in July.
Hinckley had previously been under restrictions that barred him from owning a gun, using drugs or alcohol or contacting members of the victims’ families. But a federal judge in Washington said months ago that he would free Hinckley from those restrictions if he remained mentally stable. Those restrictions were lifted on June 15.
He now says he is ‘glad (he) did not succeed’ in killing the then-President. He also said he was ‘sorry’ for traumatizing the entire nation as the news spread.
‘I’m sure the whole country was traumatized, and I’m very sorry for that,’ he told CBS Mornings’ Major Garrett. ‘I did not have a good heart. I was doing things a good person doesn’t do. It’s hard for me to relate at all to that person back then.’
Hinckley, who plays guitar and sings, is now hoping to move on to music in the next portion of his free life.