John Hinckley Jr. released from court supervision after decades

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — John Hinckley Jr., who shot and injured President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was released from court supervision on Wednesday, officially ending decades of oversight by legal and medical professionals. mental.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — John Hinckley Jr., who shot and injured President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was released from court supervision on Wednesday, officially ending decades of oversight by legal and medical professionals. mental.

“After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FINALLY FREEDOM!!!”, he wrote on Twitter shortly after 12 p.m.

The lifting of all restrictions had been expected since the end of September. U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington had said he would release Hinckley on June 15 if he continued to remain mentally stable in the Virginia community where he has lived since 2016.

Hinckley, who was acquitted on the grounds of insanity, spent the previous decades in a Washington psychiatric hospital.

Freedom for Hinckley will include a concert – he plays guitar and sings – in Brooklyn, New York, scheduled for July. He has already gained nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter and YouTube in recent months as the judge eased Hinckley’s restrictions before lifting them altogether.

But the grizzled 67-year-old is far from the household name he became after shooting and wounding the 40th US president – and several others – outside a Washington hotel. Today, historians say Hinckley is at best a question on a game show and someone who unwittingly helped build the Reagan legend and inspire pressure for stricter gun control.

“If Hinckley had succeeded in killing Reagan, he would have been a pivotal historical figure,” HW Brands, historian and Reagan biographer, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “As it is, it’s a lost soul that history has already forgotten.”

Barbara A. Perry, professor and director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said Hinckley “maybe all about Jeopardy.”

But its impact remains tangible in Reagan’s legacy.

“For the president himself, to have been so badly injured and come back — it actually made Ronald Reagan the legend he became…like the movie hero he was,” Perry said.

Reagan showed grace and humor in the face of death, Perry said. After he was shot, the president told ER doctors he hoped they were all Republicans. He later joked with his wife Nancy that he was sorry he “forgot to bend down”.

When the president first addressed Congress after the shooting, he looked “just a little thinner, but he’s still the tough cowboy that Ronald Reagan is,” Perry said.

The assassination attempt crippled Reagan press secretary James Brady, who died in 2014.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Brady Bill, which required a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases and background checks on potential buyers. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence are named after Brady and his wife Sarah.

The shooting also injured Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington Police Officer Thomas Delahanty.

McCarthy told the AP last year that he didn’t have “many good Christian thoughts” about Hinckley.

“But either way, I hope they’re right,” McCarthy, then 72, said of Hinckley’s impending release. “Because the actions of this man could have changed the course of history.”

Hinckley was 25 and suffering from acute psychosis when he shot Reagan and the others. When jurors found him not guilty by reason of insanity, they said he needed treatment, not a life in custody. He was ordered to live at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington.

In the 2000s, Hinckley began making visits to her parents’ home in a gated community in Williamsburg. 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.

Hinckley’s mother died in July. He signed a lease on a one-bedroom apartment in the area last year and started living there with his cat, Theo, according to court documents.

Over the years, the court prohibited Hinckley from owning a firearm or using drugs or alcohol. He was also unable to contact actor Jodie Foster, whom he was obsessed with at the time of filming, or any of his victims or their families.

One of Reagan’s daughters, Patti Davis, considered the possibility of contact in a Washington Post opinion piece last year.

“There’s no manual on how to handle something like this. …You just have to live with the fear, anger and darkness that one person continues to bring into your life,” she wrote.

Stephen J. Morse, a professor of law and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, told the AP last year that Hinckley’s acquittal on the grounds of insanity means he is not responsible for what happened and that he cannot be punished.

“If he hadn’t tried to kill President Reagan, this guy would have been released a long time ago,” Morse said.

Barry Levine, Hinckley’s attorney, told the court last year that Hinckley wanted to express his “sincere” apologies and “profound regret” to the people he shot and their families as well as to Foster and the American people.

Friedman, the federal judge handling Hinckley’s case, said June 1 that Hinckley had shown no signs of active mental illness since the mid-1980s and had shown no violent behavior or interest in weapons.

“It’s time to let John Hinckley get on with his life, so we will,” Judge said.

Ben Finley, The Associated Press