tv 1981 Assassination Attempt on President Reagan CSPAN May 7, 2017 4:30pm-5:55pm EDT
and fbi agents involved in protecting the president that day. prosecuting the would-be assassin, john we junior. they recall of vacuuming the president from the hotel and the details of subsequent changes in the secret service's security protocols. the national law enforcement museum hosted his 90 minute event at the same >> ladies and gentlemen, welcome. flight.is crank and the president and ceo of the national law enforcement officers memorial fund. tonight on behalf of the board of directors, we are pleased to present our 16 witness to history program. this is a series of programs we invite the actual participants of historical law enforcement events to tell us their stories. it has been fascinating.
them, itnt, we don't will be a permanent part of the museum archives, and we couldn't be prouder of the content we had assembled and compiled so far. tonight's event will explore the assassination attempt on president ronald reagan 26 years ago. 30, one ago on march week or so ago. before we begin, i want to acknowledge and thank our partner and very proud sponsor of our witness to history series. they have been a long-time partner of the memorial fund and supported us in so many ways. that is target. there distinguished representatives are here tonight. george richards and mahogany eller. thank you. [applause] >> i also want to thank our friends here at the washington hilton hotel. place, a very special
obviously, as a relates to tonight's event. truly a unique opportunity to talk about a historic moment at the place that the assassination attempt actually occurred. of course, i want to thank all of our guests who have turned out here tonight. this is one of our largest audiences we have had for these witness to history events. i want to point out tonight's event is being streamed live on facebook. filmed by the memorial fund and our national law enforcement museum so it can be a permanent part of our museum archives for the benefit of future generations. tonight, we are pleased to have been with us, they have filmed many of these events of the past, that is the american history television, c-span3. you can find it on your television. it airs on weekends. you can check their website, the c-span website, for specific dates and times.
it also airs on the internet. you can find a couple of different ways. it should be airing very soon. event onlso have this our memorial fund website in the future. you go to law enforcement museum.org and see the entire presentation from beginning to end. who may not beu familiar with the memorial fund or national law enforcement eight museum, i want to offer a brief introduction into who we do.and what we founded in 1984, we build and now operate the national law enforcement officers memorial. that is located in judiciary square in the 400 block of east street northwest washington. -- e street northwest washington. it was dedicated in 1991 and honors the extraordinary service and sacrifice of america's policing professionals.
it bears the names of nearly 21,000 officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice dating 1791.o the first death in the memorial now includes the names of 29 members of the united states secret service, dating back to the first death in 1902. that was secret service operative william crank, struck and killed by a trolley car while protecting president theodore roosevelt in massachusetts. sadly, new names are added each year in our candlelight vigil on may 13. all of you are invited to attend this years event, at 8 p.m. on the national mall, saturday, may 13. this year, we will be dedicating names to the memorial including 143 law enforcement fallen heroes from 2016. , among the law enforcement heroes from the past is names will be added, including secret service assistant special agent in charge james collins, who
suffered a heart attack while on 1992.n we are also a leader in promoting officer safety and wellness. as our chairman, former u.s. attorney general john ashcroft -- there is nos better way to honor the fallen then to stop the following. despite our successes, much work is needed in this area. last year, 65 officers were shot to death. 21 of them in ambush style attacks. for the last two decades, we have been working on a build the effort to first ever congressionally authorized museum to tell the story of american law enforcement. the museumn on commenced a year ago and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. it is located in the 400 block of e street northwest across the street from the national memorial.
this experiential museum will allow visitors to walk in the shoes of the law enforcement officer through high-tech interactive exhibitions our missions is to tell the story of american law enforcement to strengthen the bond between the officers and the public that they serve and protect. for more information about the national law enforcement museum and to follow its progress toward opening, go to our website, located at museuem.org.nt for tonight's program, we go back to march 30, 1981. president ronald reagan was newly inaugurated in speaking at a meeting of the afl-cio at the washington hilton. it was a routine day for the president secret service special the presidential protective division, who had been at the hilton many times before. on that day, john hinckley
junior attempted to assassinate the president in an effort to draw the apparent -- attention of actress jodie foster. due to quick and effective actors -- actions of many law enforcement professionals including our three panelists, the president was rushed to george washington university hospital where the doctors were able to save his life and john hinckley junior was captured and arrested. tonight, we will get to hear from two former secret service agents that were there, one we took a bullet for president reagan, and one former fbi agent who led the subsequent investigation.and now the story of the assassination attempt on president ronald reagan, shooting the shotgun nation, an investigation and aftermath that followed, and the changes that occurred in presidential production as a result of this historic event. at this time, i would like to turn the program over to the moderator, tom charlotte. for those of -- tom sherwood. for those of us from the area,
we know tom is a veteran journalist and longtime picture at nbc for television, specializing in politics and government. he's a resident guest analyst every friday on w amu's politics our, and is the co-author of "dream city: race, power, and the decline of washington dc." please join me in welcoming tom. it is all yours. [applause] tom: the new title of the second "race, power, and the revival of washington dc." [laughter] thank you. i want to thank all the organizers, and the audience for being here. support we learn from history, whether we agree on it or not.
to turn off cell phones, but if your phone rings, you have to stand up, put it on speaker, and then answer it. [laughter] going to talke for a while about the events of march 1, 1981. i heard yours ringing. guide the questions to get the discussion going. you can see personal reactions. we all know the outlines from history. we are not expecting the monologues for either the people asking the questions or from the panelists. march,et the stage for 1981. on march 6, 1981, walter left for the cbs news and then dan rather took over.
the price of a first-class stamp $.18.p from $.15 to on march 9, 1981, the first successful heart-lung transplant occurred at stanford university. in denver,h 7, 1981 colorado, worried parents confronted their son, and on the advice of a psychiatrist, gave their son a couple hundred dollars, and said, you are on your own. that young man was john hinckley. .et's welcome the panelists former secret service agent tim mccarthy to my immediate right. [applause] agent secret service danny sprague's. [applause] former fbi agent tom baker. [applause]
there will be no jurisdiction or disputes tonight. [laughter] as he heard come on march 30, -- presidentegan reagan came to the washington hilton to address a trades convention luncheon. he was in the big ballroom write-down from here. the last words of his speech, as he was leaving, he asked union guys to work with him so that he could "make america great again." [laughter] a lot of people don't know that. they do now. prigs anding -- s the president was speaking -- can the podium be moved? sit, but then these people can't see because of this. i will ask the question again
because i forgot it. when the president was giving the speech, where were you? >> i think i was stage left. we were briefed at the white house of the positions and formations, motorcade routes, hospital routes, primary and secondary, safe rooms, things of that nature. the end -- itinerary is always done over before leaving the white house. we know our assignments before we went through the event arriving down the elevator, because the ballrooms are on the lower level. after that, we referred to as a grip and grin when the president
would shake hands with the eyepiece from the trade unions. when wech ended and came back, some of us came up the stairs, and we exited the hilton hotel. tom: did you listen to the speech? no? i know the agents don't really. [laughter] mr. baker? where wereprigs, you? >> actually on that day, i was not assigned to the protective division, i was assigned to the office.on field the washington field office supplies all the manpower and resources whenever the president or vice president has a visit within the city, as well as heads of state. my assignment from the washington field office i would assign is the intelligence team. my duty actually was too ahead of time notified -- when we are notified of the visit, use due
diligence to identify individuals or groups, or anything that might pose a threat to the president. during the time of the speech, i was in the ballroom, but i was more conscious of where the people were posted to see if there were any problems. tom: and mr. baker, you were assigned to the washington field office for the fbi. what were you initially doing that morning before the luncheon? don't forget our guest over there.we want to make eye contact with them . question, i to your can note one thing. it was somewhat unique at that moment, it had an impact throughout the day, the director of the fbi was out of town. he was in williamsburg, virginia for the first of what would become annual meetings with charge.agents in the special agent and purge of the washington field was also with the director out of town.
in those states, there were two assistant agents in charge. i was actually in my car just leaving a meeting at fbi headquarters, entering onto the commercial radio broadcasted that the president had just been shot in front of the hilton. i was almost exactly at 2:30. tom: we heard a lot about the moment the president walked onto t street. rigs and mr. mccarthy, six shots rang out. mr. mccarthy, you were wounded. what were your immediate reactions? somebody said something about how you immediately took a pose to protect the president. tell us the initial seconds. what were you doing and thinking? >> i'm going to take one second before we get there to recognize
our boss, who passed away recently. [applause] tom: he wrote a good book. >> so the question was -- i forget. [laughter] tom: we will remember that. the immediate reaction. you have training. you are trained to do things without thinking. but you also think about what's going on. the heart pounding moment, what was it like? >> i did not think. it was a reaction to training. we trained very intensely at the secret service and presidential protective division. the only thing you can do is reaction based upon training. much like the military going up the hill or police officers going down the galley, it is based upon training. i can't say that i could think
about it because it happened quickly. it was over in 1.4 seconds, six shots. it was a reaction based on training. i would like to say i thought about it, but i really didn't. i reacted the way we were trained to react. i'm very have i have -- happy i was able to do it. i don't know if i could do it again. i don't know if i want to find out. tom: we saw during the presidential campaign when president trump was speaking, someone broke through the, area and suddenly there were four or five agents around him in a heartbeat. there are several techniques in the secret service. inthey are pounded into you training and several exercises to cover and evacuate the president. in many cases if the threat is in arm reach, you go for the threat. if it is not, and you want a diversion, you can divert an agent out the hallway. there are two think you train for.
aop, attack on a principle or protecting. that is to cover and evacuate a president, or in arms reach, reach for the attacker. tom: no time to think. the moment you heard shots, where were you? were you walking out? >> i had just proceeded to detail the agent assigned to the president on to t street. right.absolutely there is no way an individual starts thinking in 1.4 seconds. muscle memory comes into play. but i will note that even though you can't think in that amount of time and everything is instinctive, you are anticipating what if? publict we are out on a venue, what if something did happen? the response you saw from tim, jerry, and the other agents, was
basically the idea that what if something happens, what am i going to do? that was my reaction. when i heard the shots, i went to my weapon. i recognized shots had gone off. i only had seconds to determine where the shots were coming from. by that time, we saw the smoke from the weapon, we saw individuals moving for the potential assailant. so even though you don't have time to think, you are anticipating what if, and are you going to be able to respond based on training? tom: and mr. mccarthy, you were shot in the side. >> shot in the chest. walter cronkite had it wrong. i can tell you about that later. tom: you were wounded. had you been wounded before in the line of duty? >> i had cuts and bruises, but never anything like that.
my father was a chicago policeman, so it's not like i didn't know this was a full-time contact sport. tom: when did you realize you were shot? >> about the time i hit the ground. [laughter] i couldn't remember why i was there. i saw little blood on my shirt. i heard the gunshots and then it didn't take much to put two and two together. tom: someone told me there was concern you were going to be will run over by the presidential limousine. the number one thing is to get the president out, and you were on the ground. was that a media misrepresentation? i hope so. [laughter] you went to the hospital, also. >> yes. jim brady and the president and i went to george washington hospital. other officers went to washington metro. we were there any different emergency room's.
tom: and you went and an ambulance came to get you? >> yes. in the secret service, the training we go to is that you are assigned to protect the president. detail go withhe the president. they don't stay around to help the wounded as worthy of cause .hat is to be a humanitarian, it is to be with the president. one doesn't know if this is a diversion, and there could be an attack in another spot. other agents came and took my radio and weapon and waited until an ambulance arrived to take me to the hospital. tom: mr. baker, you turned and went to the hotel, driving the speed limit -- [laughter] you get there, and one of the things so unique about this, is that the public and the media were way too close to where the president was, and mr. kessler says "thehis book, he
secret service wanted people back, and the white house wanted more of a friendly atmosphere for the president to walk out." when you got there, what did you see? on that particular controversy, i can't comment, because i don't know anything about it. to step back into another controversy, you alluded to jurisdictional things, answering the secret service agents, when they wereto training, told about the assassination of president kennedy.in the fbi, we heard a lot about that as well. as we know, everybody in this room, to this day, there are all kinds of conspiracy theories and criticisms of the way things were done when president kennedy was shot. it was sort of drilled into us that we don't want this to happen again. i was sure it was something that
was really drilled into the secret service. the minute i heard it, and i had about a four minute ride, because i was already headed that direction, on the radio they said the hilton. i called the radio to ask, which hilton? my patient didn't know which hilton, because it literally had just happened. the media was with the president when it happened. eventually, i heard it, and both of the hotels were uptown from where i was. i continued to go up. as i'm driving, i'm thinking, and i'm sure the secret service people thought the same thing, i'm thinking back to the kennedy thing. we can't get in a fight. we have to work this out.we have to do it right . since that time, i have talked to everybody involved in this case. everybody has the same feeling. we have to do this right. i was formulating thoughts in my head as i went up there, and
also on the bureau radio back to our base, they were in touch with headquarters. went until this as i i got here. sprigs, john hinckley fired off six shots in one and a half seconds. you went towards him? >> correct. tom: why wasn't he shot? >> i think i was the only agent that had a shot at him. --i pulled my resolve other revolver to shoot him, i saw an agent coming into my line of fire. they identified him later in the fbi tapes. that shot was only there for a millisecond. tom: but you moved towards him. >> i did shoot, obviously. my job aswards him -- the intelligent agent was to
preserve the scene, take the assailant into custody. tom: how was he apprehended and moved out? who did what to get hinkley under control, and i presume into a car, and out? >> i actually think it was a citizen who had observed temporal his weapon and was the first person that got their hands on hinkley and moved his shoulders down. for all porpoises, all law enforcement that was there and the agents that were there, my partner, actually dove into the crowd to make sure there wasn't going to be any additional firing. the other agents converged as well as myself. when we got there, there was a little confusion. we knew we had the person that fired the shot. there was the issue of being able to constrain him, making sure we can see his hands, and handcuffed him. there was a little confusion. i'm on one end, there was a sergeant pulling on the other
, -- and, and that's it about a half a second. once we got him, i had one hand on him. the nearest agent that i could see had -- you probably saw the theographs -- he branded submachine gun. i asked him for a car. by that time the president had departed the scene. we were looking to get him out of the area. person. had the right we wanted to get him out of the area. we didn't know if there were secondary people involved. there was no need for us to stay there. tom: where was he taken? >> essential cellblock. metropolitan police department essential cellblock -- central cellblock. tom: going back to the press, and the public to close to the president, that would not ever happen now. >> i would like to clarify. tom: excuse me, i have to say,
ron kessler's book, "the first family detail." >> i'm glad tim is going to address this. >> i didn't read his book, i read excerpts of it, it really wasn't a controversy. it was a different time then. the stats that dictated and still dictate what the secret service do. tom: staff at the white house. >> yes. there was old technology by that time. i was told by some of our bosses that they had asked, and had been turned down. didn't want to seem like there was a besieged atmosphere around the president, despite intelligence knowing how come in.ads -- threats that was not a secret service decision. if we had our choice, the president would be transported
in a bulletproof bubble. back in that day, keeping people back eight or 10 feet behind a rope line was acceptable.not by us. i was a staff decision at that time. that's what a staff decision at that time. to this day, the staff still dictates to a certain and the perimeter around -- extent the perimeter around the president. canon agents say that they're worried about this, or intervene? even now you can have disagreements. >> sure you can. i want to add to the issue about the crowd being too close. the secret service, based on the advance work, we knew where the vulnerabilities were. we posted officers and agents to address that and mitigate that. the idea that the crowd was too
close, we know that was the main entrance to the hotel. there was a distance by which we could operate and post the necessary mitigations to make sure nothing happened. they really overplay the idea that the crowd was too close, or they were not far away enough. i think that's one of the things that i'm glad we can kind of clarify. tom: any fbi view on this? >> that's their job, protection. we get involved after it happened. this was the first time that happened. back in dallas, the law was not clear. you had the shares you had the sheriff, the police, the fbi, the secret service, all trying to investigate this thing. the history books say it was badly mishandled. the security was badly mishandled then.
we are trying to do things correctly at the present day. it was clear from the statute and protocol signed up by everybody that once there was an attack on the president, it was fbi responsibility. i had that in my mind but i also remember these bad stories about disagreements and arguments hand i must say across my mind as i was driving up very fast, faster than the speed limit of connecticut avenue, that oh my god i am going to bed and an argument or disagreement with somebody here and that was on my mind. i got up. it was also in my mind that i had certain assignments. i knew immediately i had to give to other agents. i was the first to arrive on the scene. there is nobody for me to give assignments to. [laughter] >> and this is a good point i
want to make, cooperation and coordination between all of the agencies involved, but simply the secret service, the washington metropolitan place, and the fbi turned out to be outstanding and i had this operation and i found out later, ambulances were still arriving and kept arriving i assume long after the president was taken away. ambulances kept arriving. the marines sent 2 heavy helicopters. two things happen. i walked into this chaotic scene. because we had worked and traveled together in the past and the management of these three entities only 60 days
before had worked together in the inauguration, we had exchanged and new each other and it knew each other's command post. a lot of people knew my face. there the first , person who came up to me as a lieutenant from the washington metropolitan police department, who already had hinckley's gone. he said, and the gun and want to give it to you. >> we need to show the chain of evidence. the second person who came up to me who was the assistant director -- the special agent in washington, d.c., field office,
i have met them before and then in meetings with him and the very first words out of his mouth is "you are fbi, you are in charge now." [laughter] >> those were his first words. i have no problem with that, i just have no one to give assignments to. and the daily was like that. there much collaborative. >> six shots in one point five seconds and you going towards hinckley it feels like a lot longer, doesn't it? >> exactly. the idea that they would've followed by an amount of violence and 1.4 seconds i think it is, 1.4 seconds. it just seems like, it does, you
know, you hear about despicable talk about it in movies and whatnot, things seem to move in so motion. that is how it was to me. i could clearly see people put down. i saw tim was down. i saw delahunty was down. i did none of the president was down. i am barking out command to get me a car or it it just seemed slow motion. >> did hinckley have a mood or what was the mood of johnny he clear as he was taken into custody? >> when we got into the car, of that was the whole issue i got to feel what he was about.
the officer was driving and i was in the rear. >> in our records, he was a uniformed officer at the time. he was one of the guys who got the gun off of hinckley and gave it to lieutenant wilson. he is deceased now but he later was up in the amp the and became the texan cap commissioner. i exceeded a great job. the demeanor of john hinckley, i am surprised he was not shot. he was in the car. what are you hearing back?
>> he was very stoic. not saying anything. i said we are not going to advise him of his right. we are going to ask him the thing. there will not be any conversation. swain asked where i wanted to go. i said, central cell block, metropolitan police department. john hinckley asked -- he asked if we knew the score of the ncaa march madness tournament, who won. and we looked at him like -- i think there were a couple expletives dennis might have said to him. he was very stoic. did not say a word. i reverted back to my training and the knowledge of the previous of assassination attempts.
i just wanted to get him to a safe place and make sure officers were there in the garage area. i started thinking about that as a young agent. i remember my training. there are actually plans in a situation like that to take an assailant to the washington field office. it was on l street. >> there have been a couple of them. >> i was thinking, it is a commercial district. there are stores and people. back to the kennedy assassination, i knew i had a secure area going through the central cell block. very stoic he asked about the
, scores of the ncaa game. my thing was to get him and start to identify him. >> agent macarthur you mentioned when the shots ring out you do not know if it is one person, a diversionary tactic, you do not know. this is a classic case of what you call a lone wolf. somebody not part of a group or organization. one person. isn't that still the most difficult problem? a lone wolf acting on her own or his own. the historic assassin has been a single loan gunmen. even with lee harvey else fault i don't think there's any argument about who did it, but i think there are conspiracy theorists up there. but it was a rifle rather than a revolver. and if you go back in history, it has been a lone gunman able
to get close to the president. after march 1981, because of the secret service metal detectors were introduced the next day. no coincidence there has not been an attack after 36-37 years. metal detectors are not foolproof. in the hands of well-trained officers they are effective. it is shown over 37 years of the loan gunmen has been to a certain extent become extinct, we hope forever. >> i cannot add much to that other than to say secret service always reviews assassination attempts. obviously there are lessons to
be learned from that. not only did -- there was more emphasis put on covered arrivals. subsequent to that, you saw presidents not being exposed as much. we were using tents to cover arrival and departure's. that is not to say that should have been done before but you know, you have to a just and adapt to environments. basic, fundamental skills training tactics is to cover and evacuate. basically you go from there. you adjust to the environment and the event. some events, you may have 20 people, some you may have 20,000 but the basic is still the same to eliminate the exposure as much as possible of your
protecting. >> president reagan was a friendly type guy, who figured if you isolate the guy and he or she lives in a double, did they lose some contact with the very people they are leading? >> the secret service analysis, looking back on the loan gunmen, from the fbi point of view, that day we did not initially see it that way. the reality was that particular month, 60 days into ronald reagan's administration, the country was in a very highest rate of tension if you remember. solidarity in portland. the russians were threatening, removed in their ballistic fleet along a coast they had never been so close to four.
we did not know that at the time that we knew there was tension. so for the first several hours, we did not know what we had here. we did not know somebody else is going to be attacked. so we handled this is a crisis. that there could be other attacks. it was only later in the day that it became available and the investigation began to unwind that we realize that we had. a mentally deranged young man. and for the first couple hours it was tents. that is how it was. >> and with 9/11, you weren't personal involved, but to remember what you were? >> yes, sure. chief of police in illinois and i was going to the dentist office when i heard about it and got there, heard about it, and
came home because you did not know if this was a isolated, it was all over the country, but if your community could be next three had to go back and take precautions. >> on 9/11 i was assistant director for the fsf -- operation so when the event took place, got myself together to make sure we can identify where i live protectees worm. then it was an immediate move to the crisis center for decision making. >> i know this is a diversion. >> i do remember. >> he would ask you the most out of left field questions. i am just trying to channel brian lamb. [laughter] >> i had just retired and i was at home that morning.
i was at my house. all morning long, we heard the fire trucks coming from jurisdictions further to the west and going towards the pentagon. i mean, four hours they were coming and going and going and coming. i'd you are all retired now for your admirable service and thank you for your service. so this may be the shortest part of the panel. do you think the department of homeland security is a good idea ? [laughter] >> yes. i am retired and i am still chief of police. does not have a lot to do with me. i think there are two sides to that point. they are a large agency which maybe has larger resources. they do not get the attention
they once did in the treasury department. again, i have not been involved so i have heard both sides to tell you the truth from retired and active agents. there have been some negatives. i don't know what the truth is. >> that would be a good answer to run for office. >> absolutely. [laughter] >> that would be perfectly sliced right down the middle. >> actually, the director tasked me to lead the transition and i can just tell you my position is to stay in the department of treasury. that is where my thought is. >> the fbi, looking for
headquarters, big controversy about where it is going to go. what do you think about homeland security? >> in public affairs, and i know several people inherit our students of history. in history, whenever things are a crazies leaders feel they have to do something. so after september 11 they did one thing domestically, they created homeland security and shoved secret service and other agencies under this umbrella. they also created the office of national intelligence of you have the fbi, cia, other agencies, and they created this other office, the director of national intelligence over the director of central intelligence and as far as i'm concerned, and there are several congressmen and senators of both parties who feel this way and are trying to change it back, it just created
another level of bureaucracy and another level of which through information rises and i think it was a mistake bed it is an understandable mistake. it is a public officials -- they feel they have to do something but they have created just another big level. >> i think it is an important conversation to have and arising out of the ronald reagan assassination attempt, 9/11, we're going to go back to john hinckley now but in a few minutes we're going to take questions. we have microphones on either side of the group. if you have a question, no monologues. the new york magazine this month has an interesting article about john hinckley that was to be released moving down to williamsburg, he has to check in with the secret service. he has a brother and sister who i think still live on the west coast. his mother is 90-years-old or
something. not by nature what is going to happen to john hinckley when his mother dies. -- not quite sure what is going to have to do john hinckley when his mother dies. do you have any personal thoughts or feelings much on about john hinckley? >> i do not have a lot of good christian thoughts about him, plain and simple. [laughter] going back for years, the u.s. attorney's office and start would track me down. asked after two years of telephone tag, but you keep calling me? do you think i worried he is out? he should be more worried that i know he is out? give me a call if he comes to chicago. he has never stopped in chicago.
my only comment about his releases he better be pretty darn sure, -- the only way -- surging moore's release, i guess nothing has happened. shooting anyone, injuring anyone, is of course a terrible act. shooting the president of the united states is a different type of act. the only way the president of the united states should be removed from office is by the ballot box or impeachment. that is what the secret services are about cognos to make sure the will of the people is executed. i'm skeptical about releasing someone who has committed an act like that. sarah jane moore as well as mr. hinckley. >> because of john hinckley's -- he was not convicted in a sense.
he was confined because he was judged to be insane. one of the aftermaths was the whole federal insanity defense was changed. the insanity defense is not used as much anymore. can i point out -- to be totally honest about it -- >> i thought you were going to ask if you could curse. [laughter] agent later at midnight after we were picking up all the pieces after we're done a search of john hinckley's room, 10 and i sat down and gave a lot of thought to, who would be the case agent.
and we chose a man who is here tonight. [applause] >> he did a great job. but in the course of that, i kept my mouth shut, but i said -- this kid john hinckley is crazy. you know? and yet, the u.s. attorney office and everybody else, they thought there was an avenue for them to convict him of this. the trial went on for months. it was handled by an outstanding u.s. attorney. the u.s. attorney at the time was chuck rolf.
he really helped push things through. but in my heart of hearts i said, this guy is crazy. they said, oh no. we can get a conviction here. you obviously know he is crazy now. doctor.ayman, not a i'm saying crazy". this guy thinks he is doing a world historical event to win the heart of the beautiful hollywood actress. that's just crazy. >> when i asked you about being shot and possibly run over, when you went to the hospital did you get a chance to talk to president reagan about that? tell us a little bit about that?
also, if you have questions please come up to the microphone. >> the last day i was in hospital, about 10 days i was there. i did not meet with the president or anything like that, he was injured more seriously. on the last day, my wife and two of my children came up to get me. my daughter brought her nursing kid to make sure everything was ok -- her nursing care kit, she was 4-years-old. and my son 5-years-old. i was told to come down to see the president. it sounded like an older to me.
mrs. reagan was there. there was five inches of black glass. the president was still hooked up to machines. the noises is attracting the children. my wife was nervous and worried that the kids might finish the job that john hinckley started. [laughter] >> the president of the united states did not know tim mccarthy from anyone. but later we had lunch and dinner.
again, my family has been in law enforcement for a long time. we all know there were dangerous. he was a great example on recovery. he did it for me that day. >> did you get to keep your badge? >> they took everything for me that was shot but they returned it to me. i got the retired badge, of course. >> we won't be seeing that on ebay, where we? >> maybe one day. >> could i just make a comment? one of the other decisions we had to make it is, who is going to interview the president because he is one of the victims because he is one of the victims and potentially a witness. we came up with two agents. john poblanksi and robin montgomery.
the unique thing about them is they both had suffered gunshot wounds in vietnam. robin was a marine who was shot several times. john had been in the army and was shot. we thought these two guys would be the best to interview the president because they could empathize with him. they could get his story down in get it down correctly. they did a very good job, but when they came back to the field office and we were waiting for them to come back and they told us about it, they were like you and so many others knew met president reagan, they were just in awe. what a nice guy!
he was still in bed. they let them go in alone. we wanted it to be letter-perfect. we wanted real agents to do it. he seemed to initially a little like, i have nothing to offer you. even though he was wounded, he tried to pour them water from a pitcher. that is how he was. he really did not remember anything. he said, i did not know what happened. but he said, how did you like my
jokes? [laughter] >> he said, i knew i had to keep the spirit of the people up. >> thank you for your service. you alluded to this. forgive my ignorance, but how clear was it that shots were fired? knowing now was happening, how generally you in your job, how well can you know that a shot is being fired and it is not some other source? >> i don't think you always do. the reporter gave me a picture of myself going for mike air force -- going for my air force weapon. danny can probably remember things like that, a balloon
popped. you don't know exactly what it is but certainly you have to act under the impression that it could be gunshots but you don't. >> is in training that you actually hear the entrance are fired? what type of weapon was it? >> 22 caliber. i had a little bit of an advantage in that during that time i was also part of the newly formed counter assault team. or cat team is the acronym denotes. part of that is to be able to identify the type of wound. different type of rounds. i had advantage because i had
this training taking place at this time and i was assigned to the washington field office so most of the folks had been through the cat training and can identify different types of caliber weapons that are being fired at them so some of our folks had the ability to do that. exit said fbi training? i'd snow. i do any of you on weapons? >> yes. >> is that fbi training? >> no. >> do any of you own weapons? >> yes. >> brand-new shotgun. going to shoot some birds with it. and a commemorative machine gun which i got years ago from someone as a gift.
>> i asked one, have you ever fired a joint weapon in the line of duty and she said, yes once. she had to shoot a dog was diseased. she felt terrible. do you carry guns? it is a tremendous rate. you could make a mistake and you would be in front of congress or the media or someone like me asking chance. >> the secret service, we are alluding to this, the secret service does not have a special use of force policy over anyone else. the only reason you fire a weapon is of july for some analysis is an danger. it does not mean you can fire into a crop. those only one incident where you can fire under very difficult circumstances and that is when you have a clear field of fire. we have no special dispensation for use of force.
you just don't fire into crowds. we strained should be commended. >> tim, i have two areas. in 1981 did the secret service offer or issue ballistic vests? >> i wish you did not ask that. >> we had very good vests that were form fitted. then them onferent my officers wear today. now they are light and can be practically rolled up into a ball. then we only had to wear them if there was sure threat. generally overseas. we did have them. afterwards, someone sent me a picture of my vest hanging up on
a hanger. that is 36 years ago. they also inhibited your movement. if i'd had that best, i would have walked away. when i became the assistant of operations, one detail, we aied to eventually get to policy where it was mandatory that the president or any protectee was out, that vests were necessary, not discretionary. >> i would like to jump back to john hinckley. can you talk about his background did he have any , marksmanship training and
what it was like to go into is his house or talk to his family? >> one of the first things we did, and i think i could be mistaken, i was told right away that john hinckley was taken to the fpd then moved to the homicide office there but they made the same decision the police and secret service made that they were not going to attempt to interview him. and i was told, he is sitting there. we chose to agency by reputation which are considered very good interviewers. they were sent to the homicide office and they said when they walked in there, john hinckley
was just sitting in a chair handcuffed waiting for them. they come from there to the fbi portions of the office and interviewed him at that point. during the course of this process they learned where he had been staying, a hotel but no longer exists called central hotel. another agent was given the assignment. he was given the assignment by me because i made a mistake. a week or two earlier than you agents were assigned i would meet them. right out of law school where military and i would meet in great depth. he came in with another guy and they looked alike.
i was very young, they were younger than me. the other guy was a graduate of notre dame law school. i conflated the two in my head. we had an affidavit for a search warrant and i thought, have tom bush do it. he had never gone to law school. [laughter] >> he did a great job. perfect search warrant. got the affidavit. got it from a judge. about 9:00 at night, i left the hilton. it had a command post set up. went and participated, observed they search. i don't think any secret service will witness but the mpd was
with us to search the room and that is probably got an inkling about john hinckley. a bed, dresser, little desk. on his desk he had laid out very neatly in the article from that morning's newspaper which showed the presidential route for the day. they had where the president it was published every day in washington. would be each hour of the day. he had encircled and red lettering the desk. he had a statement in the form of a letter to the actress jodie foster telling her that today he was doing this world historical event to win her love and affection.
we photographed everything before attached a thing. then someone had the idea, they even processed the room for finger prints. some of the attorneys asked us why we checked for fingerprints, we said just in case any conspiracy theories come up we want to see what else was in the room. we're just trying to. every "i" and cross every "t." >> were there any other anger prints? >> a yes. of all kinds of people. >> yes. of all kinds of people. >> in terms of the districts, is the hilton unique in terms of having one of those limousine bankers?
>> it was about one year after that. we continue to come here but we tinted it to cut down the line of sight. it was about 1.5 years before they finished the construction of the bunker. >> is somewhat controversial. you get underground into a bunker and you can be blocked in. there have been different views on that over the years where tents were better outside or bunkers could propose significant threats especially with car bombs. the theory of protection changes
with the times. >> i have been looking protective division on three different occasions and i have never seen a hotel location that has actually constructed -- you: call it a bunker --but all of the places i've been with protecting these i have not seen anything like that. >> that is a huge ballroom, and behind where the speakers are there is this long hallway that was not known by many people and that was the way you could get to the bathroom which was pretty safe. >> i have for that their was the nuclear football laying on the ground after the incident? is that true or just a warmer?
and i am curious about what happened to the bullet that was in you? >> he kept possession of it. he jumped in a cab. he did the right thing. he got down low. the motorcade took off the road. he ended up jumping in a cab and going to the white house. >> i have a couple complaints with the fbi. [laughter] >> that is why they aren't sitting next to each other. >> they took my new shirt, ties, shoes, and never gave them back. to keep them for evidence. of course, the government reimbursed me. now that the reagan library, i
think they have the shirt. i think the weapon is out at the library in simi valley. >> i think some of these artifacts are going to get to a museum. >> would you like a bullet to be in the museum? >> i don't care where it goes. [laughter] >> but this gentleman mentioned about the football, so many photographs of the actual shooting, you can see the gentleman who does have the so-called football and you can hardly see it probably learned is there is a thing called the authentication card which is like an atm or credit card and has holes punched in and that football cannot be activated until the president puts the
authentication card in the football and ronald reagan had the authentication card in his pocket. the only thing in his pocket was the authentication card and is valid. and just like tim's clothing, when the president and tim were taken to the emergency room, the emergency professionals cut off all their clothing and it fell to the floor. the fbi team that went to the hospital led by a guy named dan sullivan who we lost just a few months ago, he and his team went there and that became the crime scene. we had a crime scene at the hotel, in the limousine and at the hospital because of all the stuff there. the recovered from the floor, dan sullivan and his team, the president's clothing with his
other debris that felt down there and the card was there. and i remember the next day, we were passing this card back and forth and someone was laughing and i started to laugh, too, and he said, i have these blanke ty-blank people to the right. you get these political people putting their two cents and bugging you about things and he said, they all want to know about this card. this is the card the president has to slip into the football and i said, we should get extra commendation. [laughter] >> and they said, they want the
card back. i said we shouldn't and they said, would you want to do is start a nuclear war? [laughter] >> but they didn't get it back. we were upset about anything that could be evidence, holding onto it. we held onto the president's clothing and stuff like that. >> we have time for one more question. >> i think what happened that day flagged amazing reactions. it also flagged to the tension with the white house and how the staff once one thing and security wants another thing. i'd be curious to hear what you think now when you see television shots of the president. the agents at a pretty far distance. the line of sight potentially pretty open.
what do you think now is going on in terms of securing and making sure there is not a repeat of what happened with you all this day? >> there will always be a tension between security and staff but i do not want you to think that because the president -- there might be an expansive view of the president -- that there are not security measures to address that. such things as counter snipers and things such as that. so don't think that is a security issue. danny is the opposite for those and knows that better than i do. remember, presidents are politicians. their staff wants him to press the flesh, meet the public, not be isolated. there will always be that tension between security and staff. we should not isolate the president too much. he is still elected by the people.
he ought to be seen by the people. i think there is a balancing act. we needed to do what we do. some presidential staff wants us farther away than others as you can imagine. president reagan wanted right next to him, at least mrs. reagan did. president carter and president bush, too. that will always be there. often times, it is a higher level. >> this is never been a change but i'm with the associated press and security for the associated press so i always get the questions because to the layperson or press people, they say i cannot believe the president is that express. i am confident and i think tim is, too, as well as former agents, when i see that it tells me that that inner perimeter
security has expanded. and assets tims alluded to. they are not going to -- if there was a need for those agents to be shoulder to shoulder than that with time he that they have a huge concern about that perimeter security, ok? the fact they are able to loosen up, give more lot of sight, tells me they have enhanced those measures in that inner, middle, and outer perimeter. i am confident that has taken place. >> and there is more than one perimeter. i can assure you the presidential protective division is the last line of defense between the security threat and the president. but, there are other parameters and protection is a team sport. the secret service cannot do it alone. we do it with mpd, civilian agencies, the fbi, it is a team
sport. if any one of those members on the third or fourth parameter makes a mistake, there are others. it is a team sport. let's face it, and the society and political climate we live in, there are people who want to harm not only our president and vice president but many of our political leaders. so technology will evolve and security will evolve. >> do you want to have a closing statement? basically,the events it is going to be the annals of
the secret service. i can tell each and everyone one of you with a great deal of confidence that the men of when -- men and women of the secret service come to work everyday to do the best possible job they can do. i trusted my center that outfit. i would not if i did not think the training and resources did not only allow them to do their jobs but also to keep him safe. so i think the public should be proud of the organization. they had some hiccups along the line, ok? [laughter] >> as many of you have addressed. we all know that every now and then the hired help strays a little bit. they get off kilter a little bit. and i tell you right now, we are talking about total dedication of the men and women that have this unbelievable task not only for physical protection but also to show the integrity of the financial system in this country.
>> thank you agent baker, your thoughts? >> i think the lesson from that day of the attack at the hilton was cooperation and the importance of knowing your partner's hand counterparts. because we have worked together on several events including the inauguration before hand, to key people in the secret service were known to me and i was known to them. you cannot walk in at the scene of a crises and start handing out business cards. people have to have seen your face before hand. that was the case here. the director, the general manager of this hotel, a man named bill smith we had worked with him on several projects. we knew the director of security. we see him in some of the photographs of the president coming and going.
he was a former metropolitan police officer. when that happened in that crowd, and those first five minutes in addition to secret service and the washington metropolitan police, we did two suites of rooms for a command post. he knew what we needed. flip charts, everything we needed. we had a full command coast up and operating. out ofthe investigation the forward command post. that would not have been possible if i did not know our theory, bill smith, lieutenant wilson.
we all knew each other. even today with all of the technology and communications equipment, knowing your counterpart is a lesson we learned that day. >> thank you very much, gentlemen. we were wrapping up early. it will give you chance to have one-on-one conversation. i want to thank you for coming. we skimmed the surface of the amazing moment in history. our democracy depends on how well the balance law enforcement and a free society. we honor those surveyed in law enforcement. so we can enjoy the unique freedoms this country has. i want to thank the panel and for coming. the audience a round of applause. [applause]