U.S. presidential assassinations and attempts
From Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, a look at presidential assassinations and failed attempts.
The 25th president, William McKinley, was visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., when he was shot twice by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. McKinley died on Sept. 14, 1901. Czolgosz was sentenced to death and electrocuted on Oct. 29, 1901. After McKinley’s death, the Secret Service officially took responsibility for protecting U.S. presidents.
President Roosevelt was shot at while about to give a speech in Milwaukee. During his speech, Roosevelt said, “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He survived the attack, and the bullet remained in his body until his death in 1919. The shooter, John F. Schrank, was found insane.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Though he had not been sworn into office yet, Roosevelt was shot at five times while at a speaking engagement in Miami. Bricklayer Giuseppe Zangara fired the shots wildly, wounding four and killing Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. Zangara was found guilty of murder and executed on March 20, 1933.
Harry S. Truman
Two supporters of Puerto Rican independence, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, targeted President Truman when he was staying at a house in Washington while the White House was undergoing renovation. The violent attempt resulted in the death of a White House police officer and Torresola. Collazo was sentenced to life in prison. Truman was unharmed.
John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy was fatally shot on Nov. 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.
Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested shortly after at the Texas Theater. On Nov. 24, Oswald was shot and killed before live television cameras in the basement of Dallas police headquarters by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby.
Samuel Byck, an unemployed former tire salesman, tried to hijack a plane out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport to crash it into the White House, but his plans were foiled. He shot the pilot and co-pilot and eventually shot himself. Sean Penn starred in a dramatization of the events in the 2004 film “The Assassination of Richard Nixon.”
President Ford survived two assassination attempts in the same month. On Sept. 5, 1975, Lynette Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, fired a pistol at the president in a crowd in Sacramento, but Ford was unharmed. On Sept. 22, Sara Jane Moore pulled a revolver on Ford in San Francisco. Both were sentenced to life in prison.
John Hinckley Jr. shot and wounded President Reagan and three others outside a hotel in Washington. Hinckley said his motivation was to show his feelings for actress Jodie Foster. He was found insane and committed to a mental hospital. He is seeking more time outside the facility.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was arrested and charged with the attempted assassination of President Obama near the National Mall. Obama was not at the White House at the time. The Idaho man, still detained, said he believed Obama was “the devil” and had to be “taken care of.”