Inside the Most Shocking Presidential Assassination Plots, Including the Ones You’ve Never Heard About
Presidential assassinations have been happening since Lincoln was in office. Of course you’ve heard about his assassination and John F. Kennedy’s, but there is a surprising number of others — and attempted ones — that you probably don’t know about.
Keep reading to learn about the fascinating details of presidents who have been assassinated. In addition, find out about the assassination attempts that failed — and find out which lucky presidents dodged those bullets.
1. Barack Obama
On Nov. 11, 2011, 21-year-old Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez attempted to assassinate President Barack Obama near the National Mall. According to Ortega-Hernandez, God gave him a personal mission to attack the White House and he believed that Obama was “the devil” and had to be “taken care of.”
Ortega-Hernandez drove by the White House and fired an assault-style semiautomatic rifle at the White House. Fortunately, Obama was not at the White House at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Next: A failed attempt
2. George W. Bush
On Feb. 7, 2001, an Evanston, Ind., accountant named Robert Pickett shot at the White House when George W. Bush was inside. Bush was not hurt, according to the Los Angeles Times. A Secret Service officer shot Pickett, and he later served three years in prison.
Next: Secret Service to the rescue
3. Bill Clinton
In Nov. 1996, President Bill Clinton was in the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, according to the Los Angeles Times. Terrorist Osama bin Laden had plotted to kill Clinton in a bombing, but luckily the Secret Service uncovered the plot and diverted Clinton’s motorcade.
Next: What was it with the Bushes?
4. George H.W. Bush
Like his son, George H.W. Bush was targeted for an assassination but escaped. On April 13, 1993, the president was getting ready to appear at Kuwait University when Saddam Hussein allegedly smuggled a car carrying explosives across the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. Police found the car bomb and Kuwaiti officials arrested 16 suspected terrorists, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Next: Jodie Foster prompted this one.
5. Ronald Reagan
On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley Jr. shot and wounded President Reagan along with three other people at a Washington hotel, according to the Los Angeles Times. Hinckley’s reason for trying to kill the president? To show his feelings for actress Jodie Foster. The court found Hinckley insane and ordered him to be committed to a mental hospital.
Next: Diversionary tactics
6. Jimmy Carter
On May 5, 1979, Raymond Lee Harvey shot at President Carter, according to the Los Angeles Times. The president was in Los Angeles to give a speech when Secret Service agents found and detained Harvey, who was carrying a starter pistol with blank rounds in his pockets.
While in custody, Harvey gave authorities the name of another man, who said he and Harvey were hired to create a diversion for two Mexican hit men who planned on killing Carter.
Next: Two attempts in one month
7. Gerald Ford
In September 1975 two different people tried to kill President Ford, according to the Los Angeles On Sept. 5, Charles Manson devotee Lynette Fromme followed Ford to Sacramento, where she fired a pistol at him in a crowd, but Ford was not hurt.
On Sept. 22, Sara Jane Moore, a member of radical leftist groups, pulled a revolver on Ford in San Francisco. Both women got sentenced to life in prison. Moore was paroled in 2007 and Fromme was released in 2009.
Next: A complete mess of a plot
8. Richard Nixon
On Feb. 22, 1974, unemployed tire salesman Samuel Byck tried to kill President Nixon. He attempted to hijack a plane out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport so he could crash it into the White House, but things didn’t work out, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Byck shot the pilot and copilot first, then himself. In 2004, a film entitled The Assassination of Richard Nixon came out, starring Sean Penn.
Next: Perhaps the most famous one of all
9. John F. Kennedy
On Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy was shot and killed while he was riding in his motorcade car in Dallas. Soon after, police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald at the Texas Theater. On Nov. 24, Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby fatally shot Oswald in front of live TV cameras in the Dallas police headquarters’ basement.
Next: Truman’s trauma
10. Harry Truman
On Nov. 1, 1950, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola — two staunch supporters of Puerto Rican independence, tried to kill President Truman when he was staying at a house in Washington while the White House underwent a renovation.
Neither man got into the house to kill Truman, according to the Los Angeles Times. One of the men, however, fatally shot a White House police officer, and Secret Service agents wounded Collazo. Collazo and Torresola were sentenced to life in prison.
Next: Four wounded, one killed
11. Franklin D. Roosevelt
On Feb. 15, 1933 — before Roosevelt was even sworn into office — bricklayer Giuseppe Zangara shot at him five times during a speaking engagement in Miami. The shots wounded four and killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, but Roosevelt was unharmed. Zangara was executed for murder on March 20, 1933.
Next: Saved by a speech
12. Theodore Roosevelt
On Oct. 13, 1912, John F. Schrank shot President Theodore Roosevelt while he was giving a speech in Milwaukee. Roosevelt didn’t flinch, according to the Los Angeles Times, and finished his speech, saying, “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.”
Roosevelt pulled a bullet-riddled, 50-page speech out of his pocket, which likely saved his life. The court found the shooter insane.
Next: Secret Service stepped up
13. William McKinley
On Sept. 6, 1901, anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley twice, while McKinley was visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., McKinley died on Sept. 14, 1901, and Czolgosz was electrocuted on Oct. 29, 1901. The assassination prompted the Secret Service to officially take responsibility for protecting American presidents, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Next: Shot in fourth month of his term
14. James A. Garfield
On July 2, 1881, lawyer Charles J. Guiteau shot President Garfield, who had served only four months of his term. Garfield died on Sept. 19, 1881, according to the Los Angeles Times. Guiteau was found guilty, and he was hanged on June 30, 1882.
Next: Perhaps the second most famous one
15. Abraham Lincoln
John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, were attending an evening performance at Ford’s Theatre in Washington. President Lincoln died the following day.
Next: Victim beats perp
16. Andrew Jackson
When Richard Lawrence attempted to kill President Andrew Jackson on Jan. 30, 1835, his gun misfired, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rumor has it that President Jackson beat the would-be assassin with a cane before the crowd restrained Lawrence. The court found Lawrence insane and ordered him institutionalized.
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