The man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan just wants to have a normal life and “be a good citizen” — even applying for jobs at Subway and Starbucks in an attempt to “fit in,” he has told hospital staff.
John Hinckley Jr. remains barred from talking to the media during his frequent excursions outside the mental hospital he’s called home since his conviction in the 1981 shooting, but court documents released this week offer a glimpse into the mind of the man who tried to kill Reagan over an obsession with getting actress Jodie Foster to notice him.
As a federal judge decides whether to allow Hinckley to permanently leave the St. Elizabeths mental institution, the former wannabe assassin has spent long periods of time at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Va., and hospital officials say he is ready to live there full-time, according to The Associated Press.
Hinckley has volunteered at a mental hospital, shopped at Target and J.C Penny and makes required visits to therapists, the AP reported.
An avid music lover, Hinckley has also attended concerts and perused music websites and considered dabbling in photography as a hobby. A budding man about town, he has even attended lectures at a local art museum and takes his mother for drives and to dinner at Ruby Tuesday, according to the AP.
The AP revealed what Hinckley has told hospital staff and government psychiatrists about his visits to the outside world, reporting:
On taking part in group therapy sessions outside St. Elizabeths:
“It’s really refreshing to be in a group with people who aren’t completely out of their minds. The people in this group have normal lives, and normal problems. They have to worry about getting their kids to soccer, and what to make for dinner.”
On driving, which Judge Paul L. Friedman allowed him to do unaccompanied beginning in 2014:
“I love the feeling of being able to drive on the open road. It’s so great.”
On being rejected for volunteer opportunities at a botanical garden, the local humane society and the law library at the nearby College of William & Mary:
The law library “would have been a great gig for me. But when it gets to a certain level and my name gets brought up, my reputation gets in the way and I hit another road block.”
On getting a job:
“I’d love to get a job so I can have some real income.”
On asking for jobs at Subway and Starbucks while being followed by the Secret Service:
Two agents were “watching and listening to every little thing. That just bummed me out once that started happening. It made me feel awkward and uncomfortable.”
On being busy:
“I don’t like flipping around the TV, I want to do things.”
On the death in 2014 of President Reagan’s press secretary James Brady, the person most seriously wounded in Hinckley’s shooting:
“Brady’s death, you know, it got me to thinking about what I did to this man. It really did. You know, that I so diminished his life, that for so many years he was in pain, he just didn’t have the life he would have had … It made me wish I could take it back but it is what happened.”
“I have tremendous remorse.”
On trips outside the hospital:
They “have made me more human.”
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