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President Reagan shot in the chest outside Washington hotel

By DEAN REYNOLDS
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President Reagan shot in the chest outside Washington hotel
Agents tend to Presidential Press Secretary James Brady and a wounded police office after subduing John Hinckley Jr. (right background), who got off six rounds at President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. Photo by Don Rypka/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- President Reagan was shot in the chest by a gunman Monday outside a Washington hotel. He underwent emergency exploratory surgery, was reported in good condition and told his wife Nancy, 'Honey, I forgot to duck.

President Reagan was shot in the chest by a gunman Monday outside a Washington hotel. He underwent emergency exploratory surgery, was reported in good condition and told his wife Nancy, 'Honey, I forgot to duck.'

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White House Press Secretary James Brady and two others were seriously wounded in the assassination attempt by a gunman identified as John Warnock Hinckley, 22, of Evergreen, Colo., who was immediately arrested.

There were conflicting reports about the condition of Brady, 40, who was shot in the head. All three networks reported shortly after 5 p.m. that Brady had died, but White House aide Lyn Nofziger 'emphatically' denied the reports.

Vice President George Bush was ordered to return to Washington immediately from a speaking trip to Texas. Secretary of State Alexander Haig told reporters at the White House he had taken charge of government operations until Bush returned.

Nofziger said doctors operating on the president had told Mrs. Reagan the prognosis for recovery was optimistic.

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'Their word is that his condition is good and it is stable,' Nofziger quoted doctors telling Mrs. Reagan.

'He was conscious when he went into surgery,' Nofziger said. 'As he was going down the hall he winked at (key aide) James Baker.

'He called to Sen. (Paul) Laxalt (R-Nev.), 'Don't worry about me, I'll make it' -- and told Nancy, ''Honey, I forgot to duck.''

Reagan was said to have quipped as he went into the operating room that he hoped the surgeons were Republicans.

A bullet entered Reagan's left side, reportedly collapsed his left lung, but missed his heart, lodging in his chest.

Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was listed in serious condition at George Washington, and Thomas K. Delahanty was reported in serious condition with a neck wound at Washington Hospital Center.

At 5:30 p.m. EST, three hours after the shooting outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, Reagan had been in surgery for 90 minutes.

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