WASHINGTON -- The pop, pop, pop of gunfire outside a Washington hotel 20 years ago sent the lives of those at the scene ricocheting in different directions.
Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, who took a bullet meant for President Reagan, is a police chief in a Chicago suburb. His heroism that day, March 30, 1981, underpinned a campaign for statewide political office a few years ago.
Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty, who was doing crowd control that day, was shot in the back of the neck and sent into immediate retirement at age 45, with enduring pain.
Press secretary James Brady, shot in the head and permanently disabled, carries on his fight for gun control. He appeared in Washington this week to criticize, yet again, the gun lobby.
And Reagan, who has Alzheimer's disease and broke his right hip in a fall at his California home in January, reached his 90th birthday on Feb. 6, a benchmark many people never reach.
"He is up and walking and has been since his birthday," Reagan spokeswoman Joanne Drake said Friday, the 20th anniversary of the shooting. "As for the Alzheimer's, he's doing as well as can be expected for a disease that's progressive."
Reagan was walking out a side door of the Washington Hilton when John Hinckley Jr., a mentally disturbed young man trying to impress actress Jodie Foster, crouched and began firing a .22-caliber revolver.
He'd bought it for $29 at Rocky's Pawn Shop in Dallas five months earlier.
The first shot hit Brady, who was walking beside the president. The bullet entered the left side of his forehead and passed through the right side of his brain.
His speech remains slurred.
"The other day I wanted to go to a pizza place for a bite to eat," Brady wrote in a column for Friday's anniversary. "By the time I was able to get help getting dressed and into my wheelchair and the wheelchair into our van, I no longer felt like going."
"While anniversaries usually are happy occasions to remember, today is one anniversary I wish I could forget. It was 20 years ago today that my life and the lives of three others were changed forever."
In 1993, Congress passed the Brady law, requiring background checks to prohibit gun sales to criminals and others, including people with a history of mental illness.
Reagan, once out of office, endorsed those controls, which he had opposed in office.
Now, Brady is trying to get President Bush to support child safety locks on handguns and background checks on people buying firearms at gun shows.
The second shot hit Delahanty. He lay on the pavement as agents struggled to subdue the gunman.
McCarthy was hit next, in the upper abdomen. He had turned himself into a human target, standing with his arms up and legs spread between Reagan and the gunman.
"I was hit by a gunshot," he said later. "At that point I fell to the ground and realized the confusion that was going on around me."
Nine years after the shooting, he was made Secret Service agent in charge in Chicago, a post he described as the highlight of his career.
He vied for the Democratic nomination for Illinois secretary of state in 1998, using a campaign ad that touted his heroism and featured the sound of gunfire. He lost.
Reagan was hit last, but didn't know it right away.
He thought he'd cracked a rib from being thrown, face down, into the limousine by Secret Service agent Jerry Parr.
On his ride to George Washington University Hospital, Reagan sopped blood in handkerchiefs. Then he couldn't get his breath. In the emergency room, doctors inserted a breathing tube.
The bullet had hit the car, ricocheted and pierced his new blue suit below his left armpit.
"I thought Jerry had broken my rib when he landed so hard on me," Reagan wrote in his autobiography. But "the flattened bullet had hit my rib edgewise, then turned over like a coin, tumbling down through my lung and stopping less than an inch from my heart."
Parr, the former Secret Service Agent who rode with Reagan to the hospital, is now a lay minister in Washington.
"I was walking toward the open door that Tim McCarthy had opened, I heard these six shots actually fired in less than two seconds," he said Friday on CNN's "Larry King Live." "That starts the action for an agent to simply cover first and evacuate."
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He's still confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington.
His attorney continues to seek permission for Hinckley to make weekly trips, without a hospital escort, to visit his parents. Hospital officials initially supported the trips but changed their minds after prosecutors testified last year that Hinckley still has a penchant for violent movies and books.
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