John W. 'Jack' Hinckley Jr., 25, the man accused...

By LEON DANIEL, UPI National Reporter  |  March 30, 1981
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WASHINGTON -- John W. 'Jack' Hinckley Jr., 25, the man accused of trying to assassinate President Reagan, was arrested last fall for trying to board an airliner with firearms in Nashville, Tenn., when President Carter was in town.

The husky, blond-haired Hinckley, described by acquaintances asquiet and friendly, has a history of psychiatric care.

Hinckley, the son of 'top-drawer' conservative Republicans who live in affluent Evergreen, Colo., was charged with attempting to assassinate a president and assault with intent to kill a police officer. Other charges were pending.

William Brissey, captain of the Nashville, Tenn., Airport security police, said Hinckley had been arrested in Nashville on Oct. 9 -- the same day President Carter was in town -- for trying to board an American Airlines plane with three handguns and 50 rounds of ammunition in a suitcase.

A source close to the Reagan shooting investigation said Hinckley had been in Nashville a couple of days before his arrest and was heard to note Reagan had canceled a campaign appearance there scheduled for Oct. 7.

Federal law enforcement sources said the guns included two .22-caliber revolvers and a .38-caliber revolver. Hinckley was chargedd with carrying a weapon on city property, a misdemeanor. He was fined $50 plus $12.50 in court costs, turned loose and the guns were confiscated.

Secret Service spokesman John Warner said the service had no previous knowledge of Hinckley before Monday's shooting.

Jim Robinson, an attorney for John W. Hinckley Sr. of Evergreen, Colo., Hinckley's father, issued a statement saying the younger Hinckley 'had been under psychiatric care. However, the evaluations did not alert anyone to the seriousness of his condition.'

Robinson refused to answer any questions about the nature of Hinckley's condition or his treatment.

The Hinckleys, described by friends as religious and holding conservative Republican political beliefs, are 'grieved and heartbroken by this tragedy,' Robinson said.

Five or six shots were fired at Reagan, as he walked out of the Washington Hilton Hotel, by a white male in his 20s, authorities said. The assailant hit Reagan in the chest, White House press secretary Jim Brady in the head, and also wounded a Secret Service agent and a police officer.

A man later identified as Hinckley was wrestled to the ground by Secret Service agents and police officers and initially taken to Metropolitan Police headquarters for questioning, before being transferred to the FBI field office.

The assailant's weapon was a .22-caliber revolver, which was recovered at the scene and turned over to the FBI, authorities said.

Hinckley purchased the revolver used in the assassination attempt and another .22-caliber six-shot revolver for $47 each at Rocky's Pawn Shop in Dallas Oct. 13, a Dallas television station reported.

Secret Service agents and local law officers quickly sealed off the plush home of Hinckley's parents in Evergreen, a well-to-do community in the pine-covered foothills of the Rocky Mountains about 25 miles southwest of Denver.

Hinckley's father -- the president of Vanderbilt Energy Corp. of Denver -- closed his office Monday afternoon after his son was arrested and rushed home to be with his wife, Joanne, and other son, Scott, 20.

Records showed Hinckley was born at Hardy Sanitarium in Ardmore, Okla., on May 29, 1955, and he grew up in the affluent Dallas suburb of Highland Park.

'He seemed very cordial, not too outgoing or too overbearing,' said Bill Lierman, sponsor of the Rodeo Club at Highland Park High School. 'He was friendly to everyone.'

'He was likeable, laughable, cutting up all the time. If he did (have a temper), he didn't display it at all. It seemed like he liked everybody.'

Hinckley's family moved to Evergreen in 1974, but Hinckley remained in Dallas to finish high school and then moved to Lubbock, Texas, where he entered the school of business administration at Texas Tech University.

Hinckley attended Tech off and on during the next seven years. He last attended Tech in the summer of 1980, but left without getting his degree.

Don Barett, who operated an appliance rental company in Lubbock, said he last saw Hinckley in July 1980.

'He's a loner,' Barett said. 'I never saw the guy with anyone. I saw him walking up and down University Street with a white bag under his arm carrying his hamburgers. He didn't appear dangerous. I don't know; maybe he wants to write a book.'

Owen Strand, a personal friend and tennis partner of Hinckley's father, said, 'They are just top drawer people. The kids had all the advantages. He (John Jr.) was interested in writing and music.'

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