Yes, Ronald Reagan’s shooter sold out a concert this summer

John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. More than 40 years later, he’s making music and has sold out a Brooklyn concert venue.

UPDATE (June 15, 2022): The venue that booked Hinckley, Market Hotel, announced on Instagram it is canceling the event. 

Market Hotel defended the initial decision to host the concert, but said "After seeing the nature of who this booking has antagonized... we don't see the need to allow someone who did something awful to skip the line and play even our middle size independent community stage... and in doing so put our vulnerable communities at risk... especially if that artist wouldn't have sold the tickets without the story of who they are and the violent thing they did."

The original story about the booking, prior to the cancelation, is below.

In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, shooting him and three other people, in what he said was an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster.

A jury found Hinckley not guilty of attempted murder and several other charges by reason of insanity. He was held in a psychiatric facility until 2016.

Now, some viral social media posts and headlines say Hinckley is going to perform a concert in New York this summer, and that it’s already sold out.

THE QUESTION 

Is Ronald Reagan’s shooter performing a sold-out concert in New York this summer?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, John Hinckley Jr. – the man who shot Ronald Reagan – is performing a sold-out concert in Brooklyn in July.

WHAT WE FOUND

Hinckley was released from Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 2016.

The release order came with a list of strict conditions that have been gradually lifted over the last several years.

For example, in 2020, Hinckley was given permission to release music and art under his own name, something he had wanted to do for years.

In September 2021, a judge issued an order to lift all remaining restrictions on Hinckley, saying his mental state was stable and he no longer posed a threat. That unconditional release order goes into effect on June 15, 2022.

On April 8, New York promotions company Scenic Presents announced on Twitter that Hinckley will be performing his music at the Market Hotel venue in Brooklyn on July 8.

The post includes a link to a ticket website frequently used by that venue; clicking on the link informs you the show has already sold out.

The promotions company and the venue also have a shared Facebook event promoting the concert, which links to the same ticket site.

The venue, Market Hotel, has also posted about Hinckley’s concert on Twitter, often in response to critics questioning its decision to host him.

One post reads, “It was a booking decision, because it's an intriguing event that forces the very discussion about justice and mental health we're having. Hinckley playing acoustic guitar on a stage does actual harm to no one.”

“Punishment exists to deter crime. Vengeance is not the goal, and making ex-cons permanent hermit untouchables isn't going to make society better,” reads another Market Hotel tweet in response to similar criticism. “A 1982 jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity for trying to assassinate a president. You think they got it wrong?”

A search of another ticket site used by the promotions company also shows the concert, with the same details, and also lists it as sold out.

Scenic Presents, Market Hotel and Hinckley’s lawyer did not respond to VERIFY’s requests for comment.

The Reagan Foundation posted a tweet condemning Hinckley’s plans, saying “he apparently seeks to make a profit from his infamy.”

Hinckley has also booked a show in Hamden, Connecticut, on July 16, 2022. (Editor's note June 1, 2022: this event has since been canceled.)

Manic Presents, a Connecticut promotions company, posted the event on social media, as has the venue, Space Ballroom. Both Space Ballroom and Manic Presents have the concert listed on their respective calendars, with links to tickets that are still on sale for $20 apiece. 

That EventBrite site includes a description that reads, in part, “After bouncing around many states, [Hinckley] resided in a lovely psychiatric hospital in Washington D.C. from 1981 until 2016. While there, he enjoyed playing his guitar, writing songs and poetry, creating art, and consuming their delicious food and medication.”

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