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Recent Political Assassinations and Attempts in the United States

Mon January 10 2011 5:38 am
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2011 — Gabrielle Giffords, United States Representative from Arizona
Shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner among a crowd at an outdoor Town Hall Meeting. Six killed, including U.S. District Judge John McCarthy Roll. Thirteen injured. A debate is brewing whether extreme rhetoric in political media coverage is a factor in the shootings. Early reactions also scrutinize the suspect’s ability to legally get a handgun while separately showing signs of mental instability.

2010 — Attempt on the life of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon by Casey Brezik, who mistakenly stabbed Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City Dean Al Dimmit Jr. in a hallway at Penn Valley College in Kansas City where Nixon was about to speak. Brezik, who was wearing a bulletproof vest and was tattooed with an anarchist symbol and a star, hammer and sickle, told police he thought he had stabbed Nixon. Dimmit survived.

1981 — Attempt on the life of President Ronald Reagan 69 days into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. While leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr. The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head. The second bullet hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back near the neck. The third bullet overshot President Reagan and hit the window of a building across the street. The fourth bullet hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen. The fifth bullet hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open side door of the president’s limousine.The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the side of the limousine and hit the president in his left underarm, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly an inch from his heart.

In the operating room, Reagan joked, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.” Trauma Team leader Dr. Joseph Giordano, a liberal Democrat, replied, “Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.”

The operation lasted about three hours. His post-operative course was complicated by fever, which was treated with multiple antibiotics.
Reagan’s staff was anxious for the president to appear to be recovering quickly. The morning after his operation, he signed a piece of legislation. Reagan left the hospital on the 13th day. Initially, he worked two hours a day in the White House. He did not lead a Cabinet meeting until day 26, did not venture outside Washington until day 49, and did not hold a press conference until day 79. Reagan’s physician thought recovery was not complete until October.

1978 — Leo Ryan, Congressman from California, officially investigating allegations of abuse of American citizens at the Jonestown compound of the Peoples Temple religious organization in Guyana was killed by Larry Layton and other members of the Peoples Temple.

1978 — San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot and killed by Dan White, who was angry that he was not re-appointed to his seat on the Board of Supervisors.

1975 — Two attempts on President Gerald Ford … first by Lynette “Squaky” Fromme, who pointed a Colt .45-caliber handgun at Ford. Secret Service agent Larry Buendorf grabbed the gun and managed to insert the webbing of his thumb under the hammer, preventing the gun from firing. It was also found that no bullet was in the chamber during the incident.

1975 — In the second attempt on President Gerald Ford 17 days after the first attempt, Sara Jane Moore, standing in a crowd of onlookers across the street, pointed her .38-caliber revolver at him. Just before she fired, former Marine Oliver Sipple grabbed at the gun and deflected her shot. The bullet struck a wall about six inches above and to the right of Ford’s head, then ricocheted and hit a taxi driver, who was slightly wounded.

1972 — Georgia Governor George Wallace was shot five times by Arthur Bremer while campaigning as a Democrat for United States president in Laurel, Maryland. Bremer was seen at a Wallace rally in Wheaton, Maryland, earlier that day and two days earlier at a rally in Dearborn, Michigan. One of the bullets lodged in Wallace’s spinal column, causing paralysis from the waist down. Three others were wounded in the shooting and also survived.

1968 — After winning the California primary election for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan as he walked through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and died at Good Samaritan Hospital 26 hours later. Sirhan Sirhan, a twenty-four year old Palestinian immigrant, was convicted of Kennedy’s murder and is serving a life sentence for the crime.

1968 — Martin Luther King was shot and killed by escaped convict James Earl Ray at 6:01 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 1968, while he was standing on a second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Martin Luther King was struck by a single .30 bullet fired from a Remington 760 Gamemaster. James Earl Ray was apprehended two months later at London Heathrow Airport trying to leave the United Kingdom for Angola, Rhodesia or South Africa.

1965 — In Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm X began to speak to a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity when a disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400. A man yelled, “N—–! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired handguns, hitting him 16 times. Furious onlookers caught and beat one of the assassins as the others fled the ballroom. Malcolm X was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m., shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

1963 — John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC) on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot while riding with his wife Jacqueline in a Presidential motorcade. He was fatally shot in the head. He was also shot in the upper back and throat.

United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) reviewed the Warren Commission report and the underlying FBI report on which the Commission heavily relied. The Committee criticized the performance of both the Warren Commission and the FBI for failing to investigate whether other people conspired with Oswald to murder President Kennedy.

The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1979 that Oswald fired three of four shots at President John F. Kennedy. The first shot missed. The second and third shots that HE fired struck the President. The third shot Oswald fired killed President Kennedy. The third shot overall came from a second assassin located on the grassy knoll, but missed.

The HSCA agreed with the single bullet theory of the Warren Commission, but concluded that it occurred at a time during the assassination that differed from what the Warren Commission had theorized.

The Warren Commission theory, based primarily on Dictabelt evidence (a Dictabelt recorded the police department radio channels in Dallas), was that President Kennedy was assassinated probably as a result of a conspiracy. A microphone on a police motorcycle radio was stuck on, so gun shots are apparently heard. They proposed that four shots had been fired during the assassination; Oswald fired the first, second, and fourth bullets, and that (based on the acoustic evidence) there was a high probability that an unnamed second assassin fired the third bullet, but missed, from President Kennedy’s right front, from a location concealed behind the grassy knoll picket fence.

The Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, and the Warren Commission were all criticized for not revealing to the Warren Commission information available in 1964, and the Secret Service was deemed deficient in their protection of the President.

1960 — Shortly before 10 a.m. on Sunday, December 11, as John F. Kennedy was preparing to leave for Mass at St. Edward Church in Palm Beach, Florida, Richard Paul Pavlick waited in his dynamite-filled car with plans to crash his car into Kennedy’s vehicle and cause a fatal explosion. Pavlick changed his mind after seeing John F. Kennedy with his wife, Jacqueline, and the couple’s two small children.

On January 27, 1961, Pavlick was committed to the United States Public Health Service mental hospital in Springfield, Missouri, then was indicted for threatening Kennedy’s life seven weeks later.

Charges against Pavlick were dropped on December 2, 1963, ten days after Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. Judge Emett Clay Choate ruled that Pavlick was unable to distinguish between right and wrong in his actions, but kept him in the mental hospital. The federal government also dropped charges in August 1964, and Pavlick was eventually released from the New Hampshire State Mental Hospital on December 13, 1966.

Pavlick died at the age of 88 on November 11, 1975 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire.


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