PRECINCT 444 Podcast

A Podcast of The National Law Enforcement Museum

Encore | An Assassin in the Crowd: Protecting President Ronald Reagan, Part 1


The National Law Enforcement Museum at the Washington Hilton Hotel held a discussion about the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, by John Hinckley, Jr. President Reagan was only a few months into his presidency when he spoke to representatives from the AFL-CIO at the Hilton Hotel. As he was leaving the building, he waved to the crowds of people, and then a shot rang out. President Reagan’s Secret Service rushed the president into his limo and then to George Washington University Hospital where surgeons repaired the damage from Hinckley’s bullet. Law enforcement officers tackled Hinckley at the hotel and held him at the DC jail until he was formally arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

President Reagan would make a full recovery after one of the bullets ricocheted and struck him under the arm. He was later seen on the White House lawn wearing a bright red sweater and concealing a bullet-resistant vest.

In 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital. In 2016, he was released from St. Elizabeths Hospital and lived with his elderly mother in suburban Virginia, during which time, he sought an unconditional release from court ordered restrictions. It wasn’t until 2021 that this release was considered, but not until June 2022 would he be released. Ultimately, though, on June 15, 2022, John Hinckley, Jr. was officially released without any court mandated restrictions.


  • Mr. Tom Sherwood was a reporter for NBC News4 specializing in politics and DC government at the time of the program.
  • Special Agent Tim McCarthy (ret.) was a Special Agent in the US Secret Service Presidential Detail when he took a bullet protecting President Reagan. He is now the chief of the Orland Park (IL) Police Department.
  • Special Agent Danny Spriggs (ret.) was a Secret Service Special Agent with the Presidential Protective Division on the day of the assassination attempt. Spriggs rose to the rank of Deputy Director of the Secret Service before retiring in 2004.
  • Special Agent Tom Baker (ret.) was the Criminal Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Washington (DC) Field Office at the time of the assassination attempt and led the criminal investigation into John Hinckley Jr.