John W. Hinckley Jr. was released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C, on Saturday morning, 35 years after he attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster.
The notorious shooter, now 61, will live with his 90-year-old mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, after a federal judge ruled in July that he no longer poses a threat to society. NBC reports that District Judge Paul L. Friedman says psychiatric treatment has been effective for Hinckley and for almost 30 years, Hinckley has had “no signs of psychotic symptoms, delusional thinking, or any violent tendencies.”
He was freed under a number of conditions, according to the Washington Post. He must continue to meet with his psychiatrists at St. Elizabeth’s and must keep them updated on all of his whereabouts. He is not allowed to use social media like Facebook or Twitter without the permission of his entire psychiatric team. He is also barred from having any contact with the Reagan family, Jodie Foster and her family, the U.S. president, the media or members of Congress, among other conditions.
Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan in 1981 after he had become obsessed with Jodie Foster and the movie Taxi Driver, in which she played a teen prostitute. He shot at President Reagan and his entourage outside a hotel in Washington with a.22-caliber gun loaded with exploding “Devastator” bullets that hit President Reagan and three others before Secret Service agents and the police were able to disable him.
The assassination attempt wounded President Reagan, Press Secretary James Brady, U.S. Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, and D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty. Brady was paralyzed by the shooting and suffered brain damage. He spent the rest of his life advocating for gun control, dying in 2014 as a result of his injuries.
The shooter was tried and found not guilty by reason of insanity, outraging many Americans. He has been rehabilitating in the D.C. mental institution ever since, but he was allowed more and more access to the outside world in recent years.
Hinckley had already been spending lengthy stays with his mother in Williamsburg before being freed. He was spending 17 days each month at her home and spent the summer bowling, attending lectures and concerts and volunteering at a nearby church. Fox News reports that he also volunteered at a local mental hospital and has developed interests in painting, photography, and playing the guitar. He has gone to Starbucks and Subway to talk about applying for positions there.
Hinckley should be living comfortably in his new surroundings. His mother lives in the in Kingsmill Resort gated community, which includes three golf courses, including one that has been played by former President Bill Clinton.
Many in his soon-to-be community are not happy that he has been freed.
The Washingtonian has reported that the notorious shooter has attempted to volunteer at several community organizations, but all of them have turned down his offers. Many residents are angry or scared about the shooter’s full-time return to the community.
Everyone freaking out about John Hinckley's release back to Williamsburg, the man spent 35 years in a psych institution.
— Erin Casey (@EriiinnCasey) July 28, 2016
Isn't it sad that mad man Hinckley has been released to a gated community next door to an American historic landmark – Williamsburg Va.
— Charles T. Joyner (@lemuellam) July 28, 2016
People of Williamsburg, Virginia: I sincerely hope that none of you encounter John Hinckley Jr at Target.
— Parker (@parkerwkennedy) July 28, 2016
“It’s not a matter of forgiveness but a matter of security,” one neighbor who lives about a half mile from Hinckley’s mother told the Chicago Tribune.
However, Hinckley’s longtime defense attorney told the press that there is “misplaced fear” now that he has been freed. He cited medical experts who testified in a lengthy court opinion that Hinckley was stable and had been in remission for more than 27 years. “If those people who have concerns were fully informed, they’d have nothing to worry about,” he said.
[Photo by Evan Vucci/AP images]