APPEAL AT 150: March 30, 1981: Reagan shot
Editor’s note: Errors in the following story, which appeared in the Nevada Appeal on the day President Ronald Reagan was shot, have been left intact to preserve the stress of the events that occurred on March 30, 1981.
WASHINGTON (UPI) — President Reagan was shot in the chest by a gunman Monday outside a Washington Hotel Monday. He was reported conscious and in stable condition at George Washington University Hospital.
The gunman, firing at close range, also wounded White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head before being wrestled to the ground by police.
A Secret Service man and a District of Columbia police officer also were reportedly wounded.
President adviser Lyn Nofziger said Reagan was wounded in the left chest, and added he was conscious and in stable condition.
Reagan walked into the hospital, officials said. Nofziger said the president apparently did not immediately realize he had been wounded and the bullet was still lodged in his chest.
Nofziger reportedly said Reagan “is not at this time in surgery, or headed for surgery.”
Four or five shots were fired at close range by gunman, and the Secret Service immediately shoved Reagan into the waiting limousine.
Brady’s condition was not immediately known, but he was taken to George Washington bleeding profusedly from the head.
The unidentified white, blond male, reportedly in his late 30s or early 40s, was immediately thrown to the ground and pinned by Secret Service men and police offers. He was quickly whisked away in a squad car.
Nancy Reagan, who was not with the president at the hotel, rushed to the hospital to be with her husband.
Officials said shots, coming on the 70th day of his presidency, struck the bulletproof limousine, lodging into the side and striking the windshield, leaving a pockmark but not penetrating the glass.
The bullet entered Reagan’s body under the left arm, and missed the president’s heart.
Hank Brown, an ABC cameraman, said the gunman “just opened up and kept squeezing the trigger.”
Vice President George Bush, en route from Fort Worth to Austin to address the Texas legislature, was ordered to fly directly back to Washington.
Nofziger, asked if Reagan’s wound is serious, replied “Obviously a wound in the chest is a serious wound.”
But he said Reagan had not lost consciousness and had walked into the hospital talking to his companions.
Asked why Deputy White House Press Secretary Karna Small originally said the president had not been shot, Nofziger said Reagan “apparently did not know he had been shot at the time.”
James Brady was wheeled at 3:05 into a CAT-scanning room on the first floor of George Washington Hospital.
Brady’s head was bandaged, and he did not appear to be moving.
Officials at the Washington Hospital Center said the wounded District of Columbia officer, whose name was not immediately released, was in critical condition.
A witness said the assailant was wearing a raincoat, a blue shirt and dark trousers.
The wounded Secret Service man was tentatively identified as Timothy J. McCarthy.
“It doesn’t look good,” a White House aide said when asked Brady’s condition.
Reagan received an earlier scare during his 1976 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.