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Reagan Wounded by Assailant's Bullet

There was no indication last night as to the possible motive for the assult.

The president's day had begun with a breakfast briefing for sub-Cabinet and agency officials on his tax-and-budget program, followed by his regular daily national security briefing and a meeting with Hispanic leaders.

The talk he delivered to the building tradesmen began with a recital of Reagan's own record as president of the Screen Actors' Guild, an AFL-CIO affiliate, then swung into a plea for support of the economic package that is before the Congress. Observers noted that the president's delivery was flatter than and that he was interrupted by applause only four times.

He was scheduled to return to the White House for a meeting with four Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee, a courtesy call from banker David Rocketfeller and the Japanese and French co-chairmen of the Trilateral Commission and a dinner with two of his Cabinet members, Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Richard S. Schweiker, and their wives.

But on the sidewalk outside the Hilton, those plans were abruptly interrupted.

About 2:25 p.m., the president emerged bareheaded from the ballroom entrance and walked through a light rain toward his limousine, parked in the driveway. He was waving to a mixed crowd of reporters and spectators who were behind a security rope to his left. A couple of reporters tried to attract his attention for a question by shoutiong, "Mr. President, Mr. President."

Reagan was still grinning and had almost reached the car when gunfire erupted from his left. There were two shots, a slight pause, and then four more -- all of them apparently coming from someone in the crowd behind the rope, between 10 and 12 feet away.

Michael Putzel of the Associated Press, one of the reporters closest to the president, said that when "the popping [of the gun] started, Reagan just stood there motionless. . . . the smile just sort of washed off his face." Others on the scene said they thought they saw his knees buckle.

In the next instant, Secret Service against Jerry Parr, standing directly behind Regan, pushed him into the open door of the limosine. At least two bullets hit the car, one of them making a hole in a window, but it was not immediately clear which shot in the sequence had struck the president.

As his car sped away from the hotel toward George Washington University Hospital, a scene of carnage and shock was left behind on the T Street sidewalk of the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Brady lay in a pool of his own blood as security officers and spectators huddled over him. Behind him, further up the hill toward Connecticut Avenue, were the prostrate forms of McCarthy and Delahanty.

The suspected assailant who had apparently emptied his gun was immediately surrounded by police and Secret Service agents and shoved up against the wall of the hotel.

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© 1981 The Washington Post Company