Would-be Reagan assassin released from psychiatric hospital

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NEW YORK, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. was released from a psychiatric hospital on Saturday, media reports said, 35 years after he shot U.S. President Ronald Reagan in an attack prompted by a deranged obsession with the actress Jodie Foster.

Hinckley, 61, is moving in with his elderly mother in a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he has been making increasingly long furlough visits in recent years under the watchful eyes of the U.S. Secret Service.

A federal judge in July ordered Hinckley's release from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, finding that he no longer posed a danger to himself or to others. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity at a 1982 trial and was diagnosed with depression and psychosis, both of which are now in remission, according to his doctors.

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This photo taken by presidential photographer Mike Evens on March 30, 1981 shows police and Secret Service agents reacting during the assassination attempt on then US president Ronald Reagan, after a conference outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.. Police officer Thomas Delahanty (foreground) and Press Secretary James Brady (behind) lay wounded on the ground. Reagan was hit by one of six shots fired by John Hinckley, who also seriously injured press secretary James Brady (just behind the car). Reagan was hit in the chest and was hospitalized for 12 days. Hinckley was aquitted 21 June 1982 after a jury found him mentally unstable. (Photo credit should read MIKE EVENS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken by presidential photographer Mike Evens on March 30, 1981 shows police and Secret Service agents reacting during the assassination attempt on then US president Ronald Reagan, after a conference outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.. Reagan was hit by one of six shots fired by John Hinckley, who also seriously injured press secretary James Brady (just behind the car). Reagan was hit in the chest and was hospitalized for 12 days. Hinckley was aquitted 21 June 1982 after a jury found him mentally unstable. (Photo credit should read MIKE EVENS/AFP/Getty Images)
354390 091: James Brady and a police officer are seen lying on the ground after being shot while the suspect John Hinckley Jr. is apprehended,at right, moments after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, Washington, DC, March 30, 1981. (Photo by Dirck Halstead/Getty Images)
Officers with guns drawn rush towards assassin John Hinckley, not shown, after he fired his weapon hitting President Ronald Reagan, Officer Delahanty, and Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy after a Washington hotel, D.C., March 30, 1981. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
FILE - In this March 30, 1981 file photo, Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, Washington policeman, Thomas K. Delehanty, and White House press secretary, James Brady, lie wounded on a street outside a Washington hotel after shots were fired at President Reagan. Federal prosecutors say the man who shot President Ronald Reagan and three other people in 1981 won't face new charges in the death last summer of Reagan's former press secretary. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File)
This photo taken by presidential photographer Mike Evens on March 30, 1981 shows President Ronald Reagan waving to the crowd just before the assassination attempt on him, after a conference outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.. Reagan was hit by one of six shots fired by John Hinckley, who also seriously injured press secretary James Brady (just behind the car). Reagan was hit in the chest and was hospitalized for 12 days. Hinckley was aquitted 21 June 1982 after a jury found him mentally unstable. (Photo credit should read MIKE EVENS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Local media, including The Washington Post, reported that Hinckley was officially released from St. Elizabeth's on Saturday, when he had been scheduled to be freed. A hospital employee who answered the phone on Saturday said she could not comment on patients to the media.

Residents of the town have seemed largely unfazed by the prospect of Hinckley's release, though some have expressed wariness.

As a 25-year-old college dropout, Hinckley had grown fixated upon Foster and the Martin Scorsese film "Taxi Driver," in which she played a teenage prostitute.

Inspired by the film's main character, who plots to kill a presidential candidate, Hinckley opened fire on Reagan outside a Washington, D.C., hotel on March 30, 1981, in a misguided effort to win Foster's affections.

Reagan suffered a punctured lung but recovered quickly. His press secretary, James Brady, was left permanently disabled and eventually died of his injuries in 2014.

The shooting left its mark in a number of ways. The Brady shooting helped launch the modern gun control movement, and a 1993 bill named after him imposed background checks and a waiting period.

Hinckley's verdict, meanwhile, led several states to rewrite their laws to make insanity defenses more difficult, and the Secret Service toughened its security procedures following the assassination attempt.

Hinckley's release has dozens of conditions attached, including a requirement that he work or volunteer at least three days a week, limit his travel, allow law enforcement to track his movements and continue meeting with a psychiatrist.

The Reagan family issued a statement in July strongly opposing Hinckley's release. Foster has declined to comment on Hinckley since 1981. (Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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