Tim McCarthy, the Secret Service agent wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, says he accepts a judge's ruling for the unconditional release of John Hinckley, Jr., but noted that there "isn't much room for error" in the decision.
It's been more than 41 years since Hinckley fired a flurry of bullets outside the Washington Hilton, wounding Reagan, McCarthy, White House press secretary James Brady and Washington Police Officer Tim Delahanty.
Found not guilty of all charges against him by reason of insanity, Hinckley was hospitalized following his trial but was gradually given more and more freedom over the past two decades.
D.C. District Judge Paul Friedman ruled Wednesday that Hinckley no longer poses a danger, freeing him from all court oversight as of June 15 and effectively turning him into just another private citizen.
"I hope they're right," McCarthy said of the ruling on Wednesday. "They seem to have been right so far, but there isn't much room for error."
McCarthy, a Chicago native, recovered from his wounds and after his Secret Service career, served 26 years as police chief of suburban Orland Park.
"The doctors have said he's no longer a danger for himself or others and I'll take their word on that," McCarthy said. "And as I said during the last 10 years or so when he was released from time to time and they increased it, he hasn't violated any of the rules, so that's encouraging."
He noted that there is no law that requires would-be assassins to remain behind bars and that notably, Sarah Jane Moore and Squeaky Fromme - who both made attempts on the life of President Gerald Ford - were released after serving their terms in prison.
"Quite frankly, presidential assassins, many would feel that they should never, ever be released. But that's not our system," McCarthy said.
Hinckley now resides in Virginia. He has kept a low profile since courts began allowing him back into the community in the 2000s, but in recent years, he has begun performing music on his YouTube channel.
Even prosecutors have declared Hinckley's treatment a success story, noting he has expressed a desire to continue receiving mental health services, even after he is no longer required to do so.
The judge on Wednesday noted Hinckley has been the subject of intensive study, saying he has been "scrutinized" and he's "passed every test."