Gerald Ford assassination attempt in San Francisco

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Gerald Ford assassination attempt in San Francisco
President Ford winces - NARA - 7065142.jpg
President Ford wincing at the sound of Moore’s gunfire during the assassination attempt in San Francisco
LocationOn Post Street in front of St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California, United States
DateSeptember 22, 1975 (1975-09-22)
3:30 p.m. (PST)
TargetGerald Ford, 38th President of the United States
Attack type
Attempted assassination by gunshot
Weapons.38 Special revolver
Non-fatal injuries
1 (John Ludwig, taxi driver)
PerpetratorSara Jane Moore
DefendersOliver Sipple, Timothy Hettrich, San Francisco Police Department, United States Secret Service

On September 22, 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford in San Francisco.[1] Moore fired two gunshots at President Ford, which both missed.


Moore was evaluated by the Secret Service earlier in 1975, but agents decided that she posed no danger to the president.[2] She was detained by police on an illegal handgun charge the day before the assassination attempt, but was released. The police confiscated her .44 caliber revolver and 113 rounds of ammunition.

President Gerald Ford was traveling to San Francisco to address a World Affairs Council.[3]

Assassination attempt[edit]

At 3:30 p.m., after speaking to the World Affairs Council, Ford emerged from the Post Street entrance of the St. Francis Hotel in Union Square, then walked towards his limousine. Before boarding the vehicle, he stopped and waved to the crowd that had gathered across the street.[3]

Sara Jane Moore, who was in the crowd, fired two shots aimed at Ford with her .38 Special revolver from a distance of 40 feet away. The first shot narrowly missed Ford’s head by five inches, going through the wall above the doorway.[4] Upon hearing the gunfire, a bystander named Oliver Sipple dove towards Moore and grabbed her shooting arm. That action redirected her second shot away from Ford when it fired, which instead struck John Ludwig (a 42-year-old taxi driver standing inside the hotel)[5] in the groin.[4] Ludwig survived his injuries.

This photograph was taken one second after the assassination attempt. From this vantage point, Ford is standing directly behind the man wearing the spotted necktie.

San Francisco Police Capt. Timothy Hettrich subdued Moore by grabbing her and wrestling the gun from her hand.[3] Moore was immediately swarmed and jumped on by other officers. In the meantime, the President’s Secret Service team pushed Ford into the limousine. The vehicle then quickly sped off towards San Francisco International Airport, from where he flew back to Washington, D.C.


Sara Jane Moore[edit]

Moore pleaded guilty to charges of attempted assassination on December 12, 1975.[6] The following month on January 15, she was sentenced to life imprisonment.[7] On December 31, 2007 at the age of 77, Moore was released on parole.[8]

Oliver Sipple[edit]

As for Sipple, he was commended at the scene by Secret Service and the police for his actions;[9] the media portrayed him as a national hero. Three days after the assassination attempt in San Francisco, Sipple received a letter from President Ford praising him for his heroic actions.[9]

All of the media publicity about him was not without controversy however. Upon realizing that Sipple was gay, the media began broadcasting this information. That became the first time that Sipple’s parents and family found out that Sipple was homosexual, as he had been hiding it from them. After learning about his sexual orientation, much of his family, including his parents, disowned and estranged from him. They later reconciled those relationships. Sipple died in 1989.

President Ford[edit]

After President Ford was rushed to the SFO tarmac in his limousine, he quickly boarded Air Force One. But before Ford could depart on his return trip to the nation’s capital, the plane had to wait for his wife Betty, the First Lady, who was carrying out her own schedule of events on the Peninsula.[3]

President Ford with his wife Betty aboard the return flight to Washington DC from San Francisco later on the same day as the assassination attempt

In addition to the San Francisco incident, Ford also escaped unharmed from a previous assassination attempt on him in Sacramento, California 17 days earlier on September 5, 1975. In response to those two occurrences in the same month, President Ford wore a bulletproof trench coat in public beginning October 1975.

Ford attempted to extend his presidency by running for election in 1976. He lost to Jimmy Carter 297-240 in the electoral vote. He never ran for president again. In 2006, Ford died by natural causes.

The bulletproof trenchcoat that Ford began wearing in public in October 1975 due to two assassination attempts targeting him during the previous month

See also[edit]


  1. ^ September 21, Tim O’Rourke | on; 2018 (2016-09-23). "Chronicle Covers: The SF assassination attempt on President Ford". Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  2. ^ Carney, James (1998-08-03). "How To Make The Secret Service's Unwanted List". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  3. ^ a b c d Epstein, Edward; December 27, Chronicle Washington Bureau | on; 2006 (2006-12-27). "Ford escaped 2 assassination attempts / Both happened in California -- one in capital, other in S.F." Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  4. ^ a b May, Meredith (2012-12-14). "Failed assassination of President Ford, 1975". SFGate. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  5. ^ potus_geeks (2014-09-05). "The Attempted Assassination of Gerald Ford by Squeaky Fromme". Presidential History Geeks. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  6. ^ "Sara Jane Moore pled guilty to trying... December 12 in History at". BrainyHistory. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  7. ^ "10 O'Clock News | Ten O'Clock News broadcast". Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  8. ^ "Would-be Ford assassin freed from prison on parole -". Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  9. ^ a b "The Oliver Sipple Page". 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2019-03-17.