Would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley released

Man who tried to kill US president in 1981 released from psychiatric hospital in Washington following court order.

File photo of John Hinckley Jr. arriving at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Court in Washington DC
A federal judge ruled that 61-year-old Hinckley is not a danger to himself or the public [File: EPA]

John Hinckley, the man who attempted to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan 35 years ago, has been freed from a psychiatric hospital in the US capital Washington DC, according to national media reports.

A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia’s Department of Mental Health said early on Saturday that all patients scheduled to leave St Elizabeth’s Hospital had been discharged.

Sixty-one-year-old Hinckley was among those scheduled for discharge, reports said.

The AP news agency said that a rental car pulled into the driveway of the Hinckley home in Williamsburg in Virginia at about 2:30pm.

The Washington Post reported that Hinckley was officially released from St Elizabeth’s, when he had been scheduled to be freed.

A federal judge ruled in late July that Hinckley was not a danger to himself or the public and could live full-time at his mother’s home in Williamsburg.

Hinckley had already been visiting Williamsburg for long stretches at a time and preparing for the full-time transition.

Release conditions

Hinckley’s release has dozens of conditions attached, including a requirement that he works or volunteers at least three days a week, limits his travel, allows law enforcement to track his movements and continues to meet with a psychiatrist.

However, his longtime lawyer Barry Levine said he believed Hinckley will be a “citizen about whom we can all be proud”.

As a 25-year-old college dropout, Hinckley had grown fixated upon actress Jodie Foster and the Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver, in which she played a teenage prostitute.

The Reagan family issued a statement in July strongly opposing Hinckley's release [EPA]
The Reagan family issued a statement in July strongly opposing Hinckley’s release [EPA]

Inspired by the film’s main character, who plots to kill a presidential candidate, Hinckley opened fire on Reagan outside a Washington DC hotel on March 30, 1981, in a misguided effort to win Foster’s affections.

The shooting, which disabled James Brady, the White House Press Secretary of the time, left its mark in a number of ways. The shooting helped to launch the modern gun control movement, and a 1993 bill named after him imposed background checks and a waiting period.

The Reagan family issued a statement in July strongly opposing Hinckley’s release. Foster has declined to comment on Hinckley since 1981.

Source: News Agencies