Tim McCarthy, the Secret Service agent injured in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, says he accepts a judge’s ruling for the unconditional release of John Hinckley, Jr., but noted that there “isn’t much room for error” in the decision.
It’s been more than 41 years since Hinckley fired a flurry of bullets outside the Washington Hilton, wounding Reagan, McCarthy, White House press secretary James Brady and Washington police officer Tim Delahanty.
Found not guilty of all charges against him on account of insanity, Hinckley was hospitalized following his trial but has gradually been granted more and more freedom over the past two decades.
DC District Judge Paul Friedman ruled Wednesday that Hinckley no longer poses a danger, releasing him from judicial oversight effective June 15 and effectively making him just one more private citizen.
“I hope they’re right,” McCarthy said of Wednesday’s decision. “They seem to have been right so far, but there’s not much room for error.”
McCarthy, a Chicago native, recovered from his injuries and after his career in the Secret Service served 26 years as the chief of police for the suburb of Orland Park.
“Doctors have said he is no longer a danger to himself or others and I take them at their word,” McCarthy said. “And as I’ve said over the last 10 years or so, when he’s been released from time to time and they’ve increased it, he hasn’t broken any of the rules, so that’s encouraging.”
He noted that no law requires would-be killers to stay behind bars and that notably, Sarah Jane Moore and Squeaky Fromme – who both attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford – were released after serving their sentences. from prison.
“Quite frankly, presidential assassins, many would think they should never, ever be released. But that’s not our system,” McCarthy said.
Hinckley now resides in Virginia. He’s kept a low profile since the courts began allowing him back into the community in the 2000s, but in recent years he’s started playing music on his YouTube channel.
Even prosecutors said Hinckley’s treatment was a success, noting that he expressed a desire to continue receiving mental health services even after he was no longer required to.
The judge noted on Wednesday that Hinckley had been the subject of intensive study, saying he had been “examined” and had “passed all the tests”.