John Hinckley and Other Real or Would-Be Political Assassins (Photos)

See photos of John Hinckley, Sirhan Sirhan, Lee Harvey Oswald, and others who killed or tried to kill U.S. presidents.

AP Photo

John Hinckley and Ronald Reagan

John Hinckley attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. He fired six shots at the president outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Hinckley, who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, tried to kill Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. On the day of the shooting, he wrote to Foster, “Jodie, I would abandon this idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you.” Reagan survived the shooting, went on to win a second-term, and lived until 2004. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has been at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in D.C. since 1982.

U.S. Park Police / AP Photo

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez and Barack Obama

On November 11, 2011, a gunman fired nine shots at the White House’s residential floors from a car and then sped away. After a lengthy search, authorities arrested Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez in Pennsylvania. Ortega-Hernandez was charged with attempting to assassinate the president, although Barack Obama and the first lady were out of town when the shooting occurred. Friends said Ortega-Hernandez often refers to Obama as the “Antichrist” and “the devil,” and says he “needed to be taken care of.” On November 28, a judge ruled that he is competent to stand trial.

Vano Shlamov, AFP / Getty Images

Vladimir Arutyunian and George W. Bush

Vladimir Arutyunian was sentenced to life in prison in 2006, after throwing a live grenade at George W. Bush at a rally in Tbilisi, Georgia. The grenade landed just 30 feet from where Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili stood behind bulletproof glass. The grenade did not explode, but Arutyunian was charged with terrorism, treason, and attempted assassination. As Arutyunian was led from the courtroom, the 27-year-old said, “I don’t consider myself a terrorist, I’m just a human being.”

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

Francisco Martin Duran and Bill Clinton

In 1994, Francisco Martin Duran, a 26-year-old from Colorado, opened fire on the White House while standing on Pennsylvania Avenue. Duran, who had hidden an assault rifle under his trench coat, managed to fire 29 shots before bystanders tackled him. President Bill Clinton was in the White House at the time, and Duran was sentenced to 40 years in prison for attempting to kill him.

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Lynnette “Squeaky” Fromme and Gerald Ford

In 1975, Lynnette “Squeaky” Fromme, a member of the Manson Family, was convicted of pointing a gun at Gerald Ford. The gun had no bullet in the chamber it turned out. In an interview, Fromme said that after hearing Ford was in town, I said, 'I gotta go and talk to him,' and then I thought, 'That's foolish. He's not going to stop and talk to you.' People have already shown you can lay blood in front of them and they're not, you know, they don't think anything of it. I said, 'Maybe I'll take the gun,' and I thought, 'I have to do this. This is the time.' "

Bettmann / Corbis

Samuel J. Byck and Richard Nixon

In 1974, Samuel J. Byck attempted to hijack a plane and fly it into the White House in hopes of assassinating President Richard Nixon. However the Delta DC-9 he was planning to fly never made it off the tarmac at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. While Byck was holding eight passengers hostage, Police Officer Charles Troyer shot at him through a window on the plane. It was Byck, however, who ultimately fired the shot to his head to kill himself. While he did not achieve his goal of killing the president, Byck did kill two other people and injured one in the process.

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Sirhan Sirhan and Robert F. Kennedy

The Sirhan Sirhan saga continues 43 years after the Jordanian citizen was sentenced to life in prison for the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Sirhan fired a gun at the presidential hopeful amid a crowd at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles following a Kennedy speech to supporters. Recently, Sirhan’s lawyers have argued that he should be either released from prison or given a new trial based on new evidence proving his innocence. Earlier this year, his lawyers unsuccessfully requested parole for their client. He’s currently serving a life sentence at the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California.

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Lee Harvey Oswald and John F. Kennedy

Lee Harvey Oswald earned the title of “sharpshooter” for his excellent marksmanship in the Marines, a skill he would later use to shoot and kill President John F. Kennedy while Kennedy was riding in a motorcade through Dallas in 1963. Oswald was later fatally shot in front of television cameras by a nightclub owner disguised as a reporter as he was being escorted from police headquarters to a nearby jail. The elusive Oswald, who defected to the Soviet Union briefly after his military service during the Cold War, has remained a national mystery. Just this month, a former Dallas shoe store employee was honored with the Citizens Certificate of Merit for helping police identify Oswald after he shot JFK.

Library of Congress

John Schrank and Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt upset many with his 1912 attempt at a third term as president, one of them John Schrank. While campaigning in Milwaukee, Roosevelt was getting into his car following a meal at the Gilpatrick Hotel when Schrank attacked him. Thanks to a steel eyeglass case and a 50-page speech stuffed in his jacket pocket, Roosevelt survived the shot to his chest. He even delivered the speech as planned, before heading to the hospital to tend to his wounds. Schrank, a New York saloon owner, was arrested and later reportedly explained that he had made the assassination attempt because of a dream in which William McKinley had appeared and instructed Schrank to kill Roosevelt. He was sentenced to life in an asylum after a panel of doctors concluded he was insane. The glass Roosevelt drank from as he gave his speech, with Schrank’s bullet still lodged in his chest, is on display at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Alex Gardner

John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln

John Wilkes Booth first gained public recognition for being part of a famous acting family, but will live in infamy as the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Booth hated Lincoln, as he was a vehement supporter of the confederacy and opponent of abolition. He conspired with several others to take down the president, and on April 14, 1856, he shot Lincoln in the back of the head while the president watched Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The assassin fled to a farm in Virginia, where he was tracked down days later and killed. Rumors have persisted for decades that the man who was shot in Virginia was not Booth, and that the man who’d killed Lincoln actually lived for 38 more years under a fake name. Last year, Booth’s descendants urged that DNA tests be done to answer this nagging question. A bid to have Booth’s body exhumed was denied by a judge in 1995.

Richard Lawrence and Andrew Jackson

Richard Lawrence made the first-ever assassination attempt against a U.S. president in 1835, when he shot Andrew Jackson outside a congressional funeral. Luckily for Jackson, both of Lawrence’s guns misfired. The delusional assassin went after the president in an attempt to recover a large sum of money he claimed was being kept from him. The attack took place before the creation of the U.S. Secret Service and a 67-year-old Jackson clubbed his attacker with his own walking cane. Lawrence was deemed insane and therefore found not guilty. He spent the rest of his life in mental institutions.