Gerald Ford survived second assassination attempt 45 years ago

During his brief presidency, Gerald Ford was the target of two assassination attempts, the second coming 45 years ago on Sept. 22, 1975, in San Francisco.

Sara Jane Moore fired two shots at Ford, both of which missed. Ford was in the Bay Area, attending a World Affairs Council meeting.

Only 17 days earlier, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a disciple of convicted murderer Charles Manson, pointed an unloaded gun at Ford in Sacramento, California, when the president was little more than arm’s length away. Fromme would spend 34 years in prison and was released Aug. 14, 2009, more than two years after Ford’s death.

Moore had been evaluated by the Secret Service in 1975, but agents decided she posed no danger to the president. 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.

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 toward his limousine. Before boarding the vehicle, he stopped and waved to the crowd that had gathered across the street.

Moore was standing in the crowd 40 feet away from Ford when she fired two shots with her .38 Special revolver. The first shot missed Ford’s head by 5 inches and passed through the wall above the doorway Ford had just walked through.

Bystander Oliver Sipple heard the sound of the first shot and dove at Moore, grabbing her shooting arm before she pulled the trigger a second time. The second shot struck John Ludwig, a 42-year-old taxi driver standing inside the hotel. He survived.

Credit: AJC file

Credit: AJC file

San Francisco Police Capt. Timothy Hettrich grabbed Moore and wrested the gun from her hand. Many other officers immediately joined in, while Ford’s Secret Service team pushed him into his waiting limousine where the Secret Service and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld covered him.

The limousine raced to San Francisco International Airport, where Ford boarded Air Force One and, after being joined by the first lady, flew back to Washington.

Moore pleaded guilty to charges of attempted assassination on Dec. 12, 1975, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. On Dec. 31, 2007, at 77, Moore was released on parole.