Secret Service Releases Audio of President Ronald Reagan Shooting

Mar 11, 2011 11:18am

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports:

Ever wonder what goes on inside those ubiquitous Secret Service earpieces?

The Secret Service has released audio from the confused and dramatic moments in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC.

The shots themselves cannot be heard, but it is clear that agents close to Reagan initially thought the President – “Rawhide” was their code name for him – was okay and they immediately sped the Presidential limo – “stagecoach” toward the White House – “Crown.”

“Rawhide is okay, Follow-up. Rawhide is okay,” says Special Agent in Charge Jerry Parr.

“Back to the White House.  Back to the White House.  Rawhide is okay,” he repeats later.

But then, inside the limo, they realize the President has been hit, is coughing blood, and in the recordings, they change course for George Washington University Hospital.

“Roger. We want to go to the emergency room of George Washington,” Special Agent Thomas Unrue tells the Secret Service dispatch.

“Go to George Washington fast,” says Unrue.

Listen to the audio here:

They’re at the hospital less than two minutes later and about 3 minutes and 27 seconds after the first agent, Ray Shaddick, says “Advise, we’ve had shots fired.”

By that time John Hinckley, Jr. is already in custody and, according to an agent in the radio traffic, in a DC Metro Police vehicle headed to central holding and wailing police sirens are audible behind the radio chatter.

Watch Nightline's report on the 1981 shooting here:

The audio recording was released as part of a FOIA request. Read a transcript of the new audio and a declassified Secret Service report on the day’s events HERE.

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