Assassination Attempt

On March 30, 1981, 70 days into his presidency, President Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. 


Narrator: On March 30th, 70 days into his presidency, Reagan delivered yet another pitch -- to a union convention at the Washington Hilton Hotel. At 2:25 he left the meeting and approached his limousine.

Deaver: I ran to the car behind the limousine. I thought we were going to the White House. We started going over dividers on Connecticut Avenue and ah I realized when we came into the port of the George Washington Hospital that we were going there. I jumped out of the car and Reagan's getting out of the car, and he always had this thing where he would pull his pants up to be sure they were just right, button his coat again, which he did when he got out of the limousine. And I thought, he's fine - walked into the hospital, the minute he hit the door, he went down.

Nancy: When I got there, um, everybody's still telling me, he hasn't been shot, he hasn't been hit. And I think it was Mike Deaver who was standing waiting for me and I think he was the one who told me, that ah, he'd been hit.

Narrator: A deranged lone gunman, John Hinckley, Jr., had fired six bullets at the president. One ricocheted off Reagan's limousine, and tore into his left lung missing his heart by an inch.

Patti Davis: I was afraid he would die and that he would die without me really knowing who my father was. I knew how close to death he was once I got to Washington, the country didn't know until years later.

Nancy ReaganHe was so white. I have never seen anybody so white, and he had that thing over his face to help him breathe and there was blood. And, ah, he opened his eyes and saw me, and um, that's when he said, "Honey I forgot to duck."

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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH