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The Shocking Story Of Sara Jane Moore, The Woman Who Tried To Assassinate US President - Trending

The Shocking Story Of Sara Jane Moore, The Woman Who Tried To Assassinate US President trending details picture The Shocking Story Of Sara Jane Moore, The Woman Who Tried To Assassinate US President
Posted by Temmy Thu, May 12, 2022 6:38pm
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The Shocking Story Of Sara Jane Moore, The Woman Who Tried To Assassinate US President

The Shocking Story Of Sara Jane Moore, The Woman Who Tried To Assassinate President Gerald Ford
Janet Fries/Getty Images | Sara Jane Moore in prison months after her attempt to kill President Ford.

On Sept. 5, 1975, President Gerald Ford narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. That day, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme walked up to the president in Sacramento and pointed a .45-caliber pistol at him, only for a Secret Service agent to throw her to the ground, Fromme wailed, “It didn’t go off. Can you believe it? It didn’t go off.”

Ford walked away from the brush with death to meet with Governor of California Jerry Brown. The president did not even mention the attempt on his life for 30 minutes. “Well, I thought I’d better get on with my day’s schedule,” Ford said. But a mere 17 days later, another woman would try to assassinate Ford. And this time, Sara Jane Moore’s gun went off.

Sara Jane Moore’s Attempt On Ford’s Life
On Sept. 22, 1975, an accountant named Sara Jane Moore stood outside a San Francisco hotel. Moore carried a .38-caliber revolver. And she had a plan.

When President Ford walked out of the St. Francis Hotel, Moore aimed at him from about 40 feet away. The moment she fired, a bystander in the crowd grabbed the gun. The bullet flew wide of its target.

As the gunshot ricocheted off the wall behind him, Ford recoiled. His Secret Service agents hauled the president into the limousine and sped off. The second assassination attempt in one month did not kill the president – but his agents nearly did by lying on top of Ford in the limousine.

“I’m going to be crushed to death,” Ford gasped from the limo floor. “It’s an armor-plated car. Get off of me.”

While Ford sped away to safety, the scene at the St. Francis hotel devolved into chaos. The bullet, which bounced off a wall, hit a taxi driver. And the man next to Sara Jane Moore, made sure police arrested the would-be assassin. His name was Oliver Sipple, a former Marine disabled in Vietnam.

Police interrogated Moore to discover her motives. But the shooter was frustratingly opaque. She told police, “If I had had my .44 with me I would have caught him.”

An FBI agent agreed with Moore’s assessment “She would have had at least a head shot,” said Richard Vitamanti, “maybe even better, because she had been practicing … [her] shot was off about six inches.”

Why Sara Jane Moore Targeted President Ford
“I never got a satisfactory answer from her as to why she did it,” said Sara Jane Moore’s public defender, James Hewitt.

Moore was a 45-year-old mother and accountant. She had been married five times, including to a physician and a Hollywood executive. And she’d volunteered for feed-the-hungry program.

As a child growing up in West Virginia, Moore wanted to pursue an acting career. But by the 1970s, she fell in with a different crowd. Moore began spending time with leftists. But she also became an FBI informant.

The FBI told Moore to infiltrate radical organizations. Then, four months before the shooting, the FBI cut off its relationship with Moore — and she became convinced that the feds wanted her dead.

“I was going to go down anyway,” Moore said in a 1982 interview. “If the government was going to kill me, I was going to make some kind of statement.”

By 2007, Moore had a different perspective on her actions. “I was functioning, I think, purely on adrenaline and not thinking clearly. I have often said that I had put blinders on and I was only listening to what I wanted to hear,” she explained during an interview.

Moore Had Few Answers For Authorities
“Am I sorry I tried? Yes and no,” Sara Jane Moore said during her sentencing hearing. “Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life. And, no, I’m not sorry I tried … because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger.”

When she fired at Ford, Moore believed the government planned to execute leftists. Earlier the same day as the shooting, police had visited Moore. That morning, she also inexplicably tried to reach Ford’s Secret Service agents by phone five times.

Police had showed up to seize Moore’s .44-caliber pistol and charged her for carrying a concealed weapon. But the authorities released Moore early enough for her to go buy another gun, then hide in the crowd outside the hotel.

During her trial, Moore declared herself guilty, against the advice of her public defender. The court sentenced Moore to life in prison.

From prison, Moore claimed that a government agent accompanied her to the gun dealer to buy the revolver she used to shoot at Ford. Moore also claimed the San Francisco Police Department had been blackmailing her.

Did Squeaky Fromme’s assassination attempt inspire Moore? From prison, Moore declared that after Fromme’s attempt, she nearly canceled her own plans. Moore assumed security would be too tight around Ford. But Moore was wrong – she nearly killed the president.

The Would-Be Assassin Looks Back
Sara Jane Moore and Squeaky Fromme spent years at the same West Virginia prison facility. After serving 32 years of a life sentence, Moore went up for parole. In 2007, authorities released Moore from prison. Fromme got out two years later.

President Ford died a year before Moore’s release.

After her parole, Moore explained her motives on the Today show. “It was a time that people don’t remember. You know we had a war,” Moore said, “the Vietnam War, you became, I became, immersed in it.”

In April 1975 – five months before Moore shot at Ford – the president announced the official withdrawal of U.S. troops and the end to the Vietnam War.

“We were saying the country needed to change,” Sara Jane Moore explained. “The only way it was going to change was a violent revolution. I genuinely thought that [shooting Ford] might trigger that new revolution in this country.”

The attempted assassination sent Moore to prison for over three decades. It also destroyed the life of Oliver Sipple, the man who stopped Moore – as the press outed his sexuality against his wishes. But Ford walked away from the second attempt on his life without a scratch.

President Ford waved to the crowd outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, seconds before an assassination attempt.
National Archives and Records Administration |
President Ford waved to the crowd outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, seconds before an assassination attempt.


President Ford reacts the moment after Sara Jane Moore shot at him.
National Archives and Records Administration | President Ford reacts the moment after Sara Jane Moore shot at him.

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