WTF Fun Fact 12574 – John Hinckley Jr. Stalked Jimmy Carter

If the police had just looked at the journal sitting next to the guns would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr. was trying to transport through the Nashville International Airport in 1980, they would have foiled his entire plot.

Of course, at the time, they had no idea Hinckley had plans to kill a U.S. president.

For those who don’t know the details, it didn’t matter much to Hinckley which president he shot. His only goal was to get the attention of actress Jodie Foster, who he had become obsessed with after seeing her in the 1976 Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver. The film also starred Robert DiNero as Travis Bickle, a Vietnam vet and taxi driver with plans to assassinate a senator.

Creepily, Foster (who starred as child prostitute Iris in the film) was only 12 years old during filming. But in 1980, she was a freshman at Yale, and Hinckley was sending her letters that went unanswered.

Not content to be ignored, Hinckley made plans to emulate Travis Bickle but made his target even bigger – the president.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter was president, but on the campaign trail for reelection and running against Ronald Reagan. It appears that Hinckley’s first plan was to assassinate Carter, and he got pretty close at least twice – once in Dayton, OH, and once in Nashville, TN. Both times he got close to the president, but it appeared to be more of a trial run to ensure his plan would work. However, he was certainly capable of carrying out the plan in Tennessee because he was armed.

Despite deciding against shooting President Carter in Nashville, Hinckley would regroup. A scare at the airport in which security found multiple weapons in his luggage didn’t deter him. Neither did getting hauled into the Metro Nashville Jail, but that’s likely because he was quickly released on a small bond and paid $62.50 in total for his transgression (at least, the one people knew about).

Today we know that Hinckley’s plans were laid out in a journal he also kept in his luggage right next to those guns the police found. But no one opened it.

Of course, the very next year he would go on to shoot President Reagan in Washington, right across from the Secret Service headquarters. Reagan lived, and Hinckley was captured, but he was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 and handed over to a mental health institution. He was granted unconditional release in 2021. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Investigators Think Hinckley Stalked Carter” — The New York Times


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