James Brady’s shooter, John Hinckley Jr., remains institutionalized

John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington in 2003.
John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington in 2003.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The man who shot James Brady in the head while trying to assassinate President Reagan remains institutionalized in St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital, although he has been allowed to leave for days at a time to visit his mother.

John Hinckley Jr., 59, was sent to St. Elizabeth’s after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting Reagan, then-press secretary Brady, a police officer and a Secret Service agent with a six-shot revolver.

Brady, who died Monday at 73, was left paralyzed and became a staunch gun-control advocate after the March 30, 1981, shooting outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Since 2006, Hinckley has been allowed to leave the Washington, D.C., hospital to visit his mother, who lives in Williamsburg, Va., according to court records reported on last year by former Times reporter Wes Venteicher.


Hinckley, who was still being watched by the Secret Service, had been behaving normally; going shopping with his mother and behaving normally while at her home, according to court documents released in April 2013.

Hinckley’s father died in 2008, according to Virginia’s Daily Press.

The Secret Service had kept detailed notes of its random observations of Hinckley, including what he ate, the cleanliness of his clothes and his online activity, according to court records.

The records also noted Hinckley had been punished in the past for perusing books related to presidential assassinations.

Hinckley’s mother, Jo Ann, could not be reached for comment Monday.

During his trial, Hinckley’s defense argued he had schizophrenia and became infatuated with Jodie Foster, believing killing Reagan would impress the actress.

Hinckley, the defense said, became obsessed with Foster after seeing her in the 1976 Martin Scorsese film “Taxi Driver.”

In the film, Foster plays a prostitute who befriends a taxi driver played by Robert De Niro who attempts to assassinate a politician.


Former Times staff writer Wes Venteicher contributed to this report.

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