1975 Year in Review

President Gerald Ford Assassination Attempts

Published: 1975
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
As Betty Ford holds the umbrella, a military aide rushes forward to assist President Ford as he trips and falls on the lower steps of the plane ramp following his arrival in Salzburg, Austria on June 1, 1975. (UPI Photo/Files)

Roger Giddens: "Something has happened here on the State Capitol grounds in California. The President is being hustled away from a crowd he was shaking hands with."

Ed Karrens: September 5th, 1975...

Roger Giddens: "We're moving along with the Secret Service."

Ed Karrens: Reporter Roger Giddens...

Roger Giddens: "The President is safe, though."

Ed Karrens: An attempt to assassinate the President...

Roger Giddens: "Secret Servicemen immediately jumped on a spectator as the President was shaking hands as he walked toward the state capital. We don't exactly know what happened here, but the President is all right. He appears a bit bewildered, surrounded by Secret Servicemen who suddenly yelled, 'Let's go, let's go' and rushed the President away from the crowd on the state capital grounds."


Unknown Speaker: "Well, I was about ten feet from where the President was, and he was over moving down with the crowd shaking hands, and he reached out to shake a -- a girl's hand, and this other girl, a red-headed girl, produced a pistol. And I just saw him, he winced like this and moved away. I thought... I couldn't see the pistol; I just saw her motion, and I thought she punched him or something. And at -- at that point someone said he fell -- I didn't see him fall -- and they started to run, and of course they grabbed her and... and subdued her."

Ed Karrens: Twenty-six-year-old Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was the person arrested that day for an attempted assassination of the President of the United States. Fromme pointed a .45-caliber pistol at Ford. The gun was loaded with a magazine filled with bullets, but fortunately none was in the firing chamber. Fromme was identified as a follower of Charles Manson, convicted of murdering actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969.

Incredibly, 17 days later, another attempt was made on Ford's life, this time in San Francisco, and this time a shot was actually fired. Unbelievably, it was another woman who tried to shoot the President. Forty-five-year-old Sara Jane Moore had her hand deflected by a former Marine who was standing next to her. The .38-caliber pistol fired one round into the pavement...

Unknown Speaker: "I saw the President come out of the hotel where his limousine was parked and hesitate a little bit before entering the limousine. And then I heard this noise -- we all heard this noise -- that -- that appeared -- that might have been a backfire from one of the motorcycle escorts when actually it was a shot that was fired directly opposite the entrance directly across the street from the President. I looked at the President, and he just kind of stopped in his tracks a little bit and appeared to be like amazed. And then quickly he was hustled into the waiting limousine in a crouched position and it immediately sped off."

Ed Karrens: It was suggested that President Ford curtail some of his traveling or at least stay away from crowds and not announce a proposed Presidential route. Ford, who wore a bulletproof vest for a short time, said he was still going to see the people of the United States …

President Gerald Ford: "This incident under no circumstances will prevent me or preclude me from contacting the American people as I travel from one state to another and from one community to another. In my judgment, it's vitally important for a President to see the American people, and I'm going to continue to have that personal contact and relationship with the American people. I think it's vital, and I intend to carry it out."

Ed Karrens: Lynette Fromme was subsequently tried and found guilty of attempting to assassinate the President.