That scene was described by James W. Clarke in
On Being Mad or Merely Angry as �bedlam. Amid the hysterical
screams of bystanders, wailing sirens, and shouts of Secret Service
agents and police attempting to gain control of the situation, Tim
McCarthy lay doubled up on the sidewalk, hands clutching the bullet
wound in his stomach; a few feet away police officer Tom Delahanty
writhed in agony from a neck wound; next to him lay presidential press
secretary Jim Brady, the first to fall, his face flattened against the
sidewalk, arms twitching incongruously at his sides, blood trickling
into a storm grate from a pea-sized bullet hole over his left eye.�
A Secret Service agent overpowered the shooter,
coming down on top of the overweight young man and wrestling him to
the ground. The president�s attacker continued clicking on the
emptied gun until his hand was disabled.
Soon newspapers filled with headlines about the
shooting while the videotape was seen on TV sets in homes across
America and throughout the world. Condolences streamed to the White
House from across the globe.
First reports were reassuring, at least
concerning Reagan. The president underwent a successful operation and
would soon be able to resume his duties.
Ever jovial, Reagan relied on humor to carry him
through. When his wife arrived at the hospital just as he was being
readied for surgery, he whispered to her, �Honey, I forgot to duck.�
Through tubes in his mouth, he rasped, �All in all, I�d rather be in
Philadelphia.� Just before he lost consciousness, he said to the
operating team, �Please tell me you�re Republicans.�
Tom Delahanty and Tim McCarthy were expected to
survive. Doctors feared Jim Brady might not be as lucky. An
exploding Devastator bullet had hit his brain. It was touch and go
for a long time. Finally, physicians announced that he would live but
be permanently impaired. Brady was paralyzed and would be confined to
a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Attention focused on the shooter. His name was
John Warnock Hinckley Jr. It soon became known that he had no
political motivation. Rather, he was trying to impress a woman -
actress Jodie Foster.