Unfortunately, United States’ citizens are no strangers when it comes to presidential assassination attempts. After all, assassinations are responsible for claiming the lives of four beloved American presidents, including presidents Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. Enter the secret service — a government agency whose sole purpose is to protect both current and former presidents, vice presidents and even close members of their family. Lest we forget Disney’s popular movie “My Date with the President’s Daughter.” Alas, we digress…
The secret service team was once again put to the test in 1979 when they intercepted what appeared to be an attempt to assassinate the 39th United States President, Jimmy Carter. As reported by the Washington Post, 35-year-old Raymond Lee Harvey was charged with conspiring to kill the commander-in-chief mere minutes before the president was scheduled to speak at a Cinco De Mayo Festival in Los Angeles, Calif.
But just what was Harvey’s plan? Keep reading after the jump to find out!
FBI agents were hesitant to believe Raymond Lee Harvey's claims
According to the Washington Post, members of the secret service team grew increasingly suspicious of Raymond Lee Harvey as he lurked a short 50 feet away from the president. Sure enough, upon apprehending him, they found a pistol in his possession. During questioning, however, an inebriated Harvey recounted a wild assassination attempt in which he told officials that he had plans to fire his gun in the air in an effort to cause a frenzy, while three other hit men would fire shots at the sitting president from the roof of the Alan hotel nearby.
While the FBI was initially dubious of Harvey’s claims, due to his drunken state and also his history of mental illness, later they took his claims much more seriously once one of the supposed hit men, a man by the name of Osvaldo Espinoza Ortiz, provided testimony verifying Harvey’s account. It’s also reported, per the New York Times, that FBI agents uncovered both a gun case and ammunition in a hotel room that Harvey claimed served as the headquarters for the assassination attempt.
Ultimately, however, due to lack of evidence, the charges against both men were dismissed. In the book “Hunting the President” author Mel Ayton penned that FBI agent Tom Shields famously said that after a thorough investigation the government agency came to the conclusion that the murder plot never occurred.
Either way, we’re sure the former prez is thankful for the diligent work of the secret service team on that fateful day.
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