Reagan shooter released after 35 years

Mr Hinckley (above and above left), who opened fire on then President Reagan in 1981, arriving last Saturday at his new home, a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia, where his mother lives. A federal judge in July ordered Mr Hinckley's release f
Mr Hinckley (above), who opened fire on then President Reagan in 1981, arriving last Saturday at his new home, a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia, where his mother lives. A federal judge in July ordered Mr Hinckley's release from a psychiatric hospital in Washington, finding that he no longer posed a danger to himself or to others.PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS
Mr Hinckley (above and above left), who opened fire on then President Reagan in 1981, arriving last Saturday at his new home, a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia, where his mother lives. A federal judge in July ordered Mr Hinckley's release f
Mr Hinckley (above), who opened fire on then President Reagan in 1981, arriving last Saturday at his new home, a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia, where his mother lives. A federal judge in July ordered Mr Hinckley's release from a psychiatric hospital in Washington, finding that he no longer posed a danger to himself or to others.PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

NEW YORK • Would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr has been released from a psychiatric hospital, 35 years after he shot US president Ronald Reagan in an attack prompted by a deranged obsession with actress Jodie Foster.

Mr Hinckley, 61, is moving in with his elderly mother in a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he has been making increasingly long furlough visits in recent years under the watchful eyes of the US Secret Service.

A federal judge in July ordered Mr Hinckley's release from St Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, finding that he no longer posed a danger to himself or to others.

Mr Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity at a 1982 trial and was diagnosed with depression and psychosis, both of which are now in remission, according to his doctors.

US media, including The Washington Post, reported that Mr Hinckley was officially released from St Elizabeth's last Saturday, when he had been scheduled to be freed.

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

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

Mr Reagan suffered a punctured lung but recovered quickly. His press secretary James Brady was left permanently disabled and eventually died of his injuries in 2014.

The attack left its mark in a number of ways. The Brady shooting helped to launch the modern gun control movement, and a 1993 Bill named after him imposed background checks on firearm buyers and a waiting period for purchases.

Mr Hinckley's verdict, meanwhile, led several states to rewrite their laws to make insanity defences more difficult, and the Secret Service toughened its security procedures following the assassination attempt.

Mr Hinckley's release has dozens of conditions attached, including requirements that he work or volunteer at least three days a week, limit his travel, allow law enforcement to track his movements and continue seeing a psychiatrist.

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

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Reagan shooter released after 35 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe