March 30, 1981, forever changed the lives of four men. Two were Secret Service agents who became heroes. One was a mentally ill citizen who would never again live freely. And one, already the leader of the free world, succumbed to weakness when he collapsed in the hall of George Washington University Hospital. Who were these men and what became of them after that day?
Jerry Parr, Special Agent in Charge
Parr was so inspired by the 1933 movie Code of the Secret Service, in which Ronald Reagan plays an agent, that he later decided to join the Secret Service. Parr helped get Reagan into the limousine after shots were fired and examined the president for wounds. Parr taught hostile environment training with O’Gara Protective Services in Saudi Arabia for a brief time after he retired from the Secret Service in 1987. He was later ordained and became a pastoral counselor in Rockville, Md., and then became a co-pastor at Festival Church in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C. Parr fully retired in 2009. He is now 80 and told National Journal that he is “living a happy life” in Washington.
Ray Shaddick, Shift Leader
Shaddick shoved Reagan and Parr into the limousine and slammed the door within three seconds of the first shot being fired, according to Parr. Shaddick accompanied Reagan to Germany as the special agent in charge at the demolishing of the Berlin Wall in 1987. He went on to become chief of security at Turner Broadcasting and is now retired. Shaddick no longer gives interviews with the media.
John Hinckley Jr.
The man who shot Reagan and wounded three others over an alleged obsession with actress Jodie Foster has been institutionalized in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington since his trial in1981. In June of 2009, a federal judge granted Hinckley more freedom that allowed him to have extended family visits and to do volunteer work in his mother’s home town of Williamsburg, Va.
The 40th president of the United States died on June 5, 2004, at age 93 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. His legacy as a fiscal conservative continues to resonate with Republicans today. On the day of his death, the Los Angeles Times wrote that “Reagan had the rare distinction of leaving office more popular than when he arrived.”