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32 years after trying to kill Gerald Ford, Moore is freed

January 01, 2008|Steve Chawkins, Larry Gordon and Richard Winton | Times Staff Writers

He filed a $15-million lawsuit for invasion of privacy against seven newspapers, including The Times. A judge rejected it. Sipple died in 1989 at the age of 47.

Few of the employees at the posh St. Francis on Monday were working there when the assassination attempt took place. However, Jaime Gonzalez, 58, was at his post in the hotel garage, just as he had been when pandemonium broke out that September afternoon 32 years ago.

"I didn't think a lady would do something like that," he said. "Maybe someone else -- but not a lady."

Gonzalez shook his head in disbelief at the news that Moore had been released.

"I really don't know if this is justice," he said. "I mean -- that was the president of the United States."

Moore's attempt on Ford's life came 17 days after Fromme tried to kill Ford on Sept. 5, 1975, when she burst through a crowd at the state Capitol, dressed in a nun's robe with a .45-caliber pistol strapped to her leg.

Fromme pointed the weapon at Ford from two feet away. Though the gun was loaded, there was no bullet in the chamber. A Secret Service agent disarmed her and slapped her in handcuffs.

Ford died on Dec. 26, 2006, of natural causes. Fromme remains in prison.

At the St. Francis, where Ford had come close to dying violently, visitors sometimes gaze up at a quarter-sized gouge on an exterior wall near the north entrance.

It's said to be the spot where Moore's bullet ricocheted -- a notion confirmed by a hotel employee who asked not to be identified.

"There hasn't been a reason to do anything with it," the employee said, acknowledging that tourists with a bent for American history sometimes stand on the sidewalk eyeing the spot, six feet or so above what is now a Bank of America automated teller machine.

Chawkins reported from San Francisco, Gordon and Winton from Los Angeles.



Other assassins and would-be assassins

Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President Kennedy in 1963, was killed by Jack Ruby while in police custody.

James Earl Ray, who assassinated the Rev. Martin Luther King in 1968, died of natural causes in prison in 1998.

Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, is serving a life sentence.

Arthur H. Bremer, who shot and wounded Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace in 1972, was released in November from state prison after serving 35 years. Wallace died in 1998.

Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme, a Charles Manson follower who was convicted for her failed 1975 assassination attempt of President Ford, remains in prison.

Mark David Chapman, who fatally shot former Beatle John Lennon in 1980, is serving a life sentence.

John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan in 1981, remains in a mental institution. He is allowed to leave for brief visits with his family.

Source: Times research

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