John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was freed earlier this month, and told CBS News that he is "remorseful" about his attempt to assassinate the nation's former leader.
"I have true remorse for what I did. I know [the victims] probably can't forgive me now, but I just want them to know that I am sorry for what I did," Hinckley told CBS News' chief Washington correspondent, Major Garrett. "I've been the most scrutinized person in the entire mental health system for 41 years."
Hinckley, then 25, opened fire with a .22 caliber handgun on Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981, striking the former president and members of his entourage, according to the Reagan Library.
The shot that hit the president ricocheted off his limousine and entered under his left armpit, narrowly missing his heart.
The shooting also wounded Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, police officer Thomas Delaney, and critically injured press secretary James Brady.
Reagan was rushed to George Washington University Hospital where he underwent surgery and recovered, returning to the White House 12 days later.
Hinckley was immediately wrestled to the ground by police and Secret Service agents and ultimately was found not guilty of the crime due to mental instability, instead spending the next three decades in a mental institution before being allowed to live with his family under surveillance for the last five years, NPR reported.
He is the only presidential assassin ever released from custody and won an unconditional release earlier this month.
In the interview with CBS, Hinckley said that he tried to kill himself twice over the years, once by hanging and a second time using pills, but has since reclaimed his life through extensive therapy groups and medication.
"Psychologically, that person is dead," Hinckley said of his younger self. "I'm a completely different person in mind and spirit. I was not just a cold, calculating criminal in 1981. I'm glad I did not succeed."
Hinckley said that he was "delusional" during that time and acted on his "obsession" with impressing actress Jodie Foster when he decided to kill Reagan.
"It was planned, yeah," Hinckley told CBS News, adding that he now believes Reagan was a "nice man and a good president."
Hinckley said he can’t remember the incident itself, or what he felt as he shot the president.
"It's such another lifetime ago," he said in the interview. "It's something I don't want to remember. It was all just so traumatic."
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