Two Women tried to Assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975
In the span of just 17 days, 2 women tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975. Both women very nearly succeeded, we will be featuring the story of Sarah Jane Moore, who came within 6 inches of murdering 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.”
But a mere 17 days later, on September 22, 1975, another woman named Sara Jane Moore would also try to assassinate Ford. And this time, the shooter’s gun actually went off.
However, that day at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, it was just a few tiny twists of fate that narrowly kept Sara Jane Moore from succeeding in killing Gerald Ford.
Sara Jane Moore’s Attempt On Gerald Ford’s Life
When President Ford walked out of the St. Francis Hotel, Sara Jane Moore aimed at him from about 40 feet away. The moment she fired, a bystander in the crowd grabbed the gun causing the bullet to fly wide of President Gerald Ford.
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 she was frustratingly opaque. She told police, “If I had had my .44 with me I would have caught him.”
FBI agent Richard Vitamanti agreed with Moore’s assessment: “She would have had at least a head shot, maybe even better, because she had been practicing … [her] shot was off about six inches.”
Sarah Jane Moore didn’t fit the profile of an assassin
“I never got a satisfactory answer from her as to why she did it,” said Sara Jane Moore’s public defender, James Hewitt.
Moore, a 45-year-old mother and accountant, certainly didn’t fit the profile of an assassin. She had been married five times, including to a physician and a Hollywood executive. She was also a volunteer for a 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.
Sarah Jane Moore’s time as a FBI Informant
The FBI told Moore to infiltrate radical organizations. Then, four months before the shooting, the FBI cut off its relationship with Moore, convincing her 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.”
The Trial Of The Woman Who Tried To Kill Gerald Ford
“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.”Sarah Jane Moore
When she fired at Ford, Moore believed the government planned to execute leftists. The day of the shooting, police visited Moore due to her trying to reach Ford’s Secret Service agents by phone five times.
Police showed up to seize Moore’s .44-caliber pistol and charged her with carrying a concealed weapon. However, authorities released Moore early enough for her to buy another gun, then hide in the crowd outside the hotel.
During her trial, Moore pleaded guilty, against the advice of her public defender. She was ultimately sentenced to life in prison.
Sarah Jane Moore claims someone blackmailed her!
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.
The Motives For Sara Jane Moore’s Crime
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 her from prison. Fromme got out two years later. President Ford, however, 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.”
“We were saying the country needed to change, 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.”
Regardless of her motives, the attempted assassination sent Moore to prison for over three decades. And had Sara Jane Moore not missed her target by mere inches, she would have gone down in history as the first and only woman to assassinate the president in the history of the United States.