Manson Girl Tries to Shoot President
Friday, September 5th, 1975
SACRAMENTO, Sept. 5 — President Ford narrowly escaped an assassination attempt today by a woman follower of convicted murderer Charles Manson.
The woman, identified as Lynette Alice (Squeaky) Fromme, 26, stepped from a crowd of onlookers and pointed a loaded .45-caliber pistol at the President’s back from a distance of two feet as he was walking toward the Capitol.
A Secret Service agent, walking a few feet behind Mr. Ford, grabbed the weapon and wrested it from the woman before it could go off.
The President was not injured.
The murder attempt occurred shortly after 10 a.m. after the President, ringed by security agents, had walked from the Senator Hotel across the Capitol and was making his way down a sidewalk through Capitol Park.
He was waving and shaking hands with people in the crowd of about 500 when Secret Service Agent Larry Buendorf saw the woman’s arm and the automatic pistol suddenly jut out from the crowd.
According to Presidential Press Secretary Ron Nessen, Buendorf grabbed the firearm with his right hand and grabbed Fromme’s arm with his left to wrench the weapon from her.
The agent, Nessen said, suffered a slight cut between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand.
Agent Buendorf wrestled Fromme to the ground in the crowd and she was handcuffed.
During the scuffle the woman — wearing a long red dress and a red head bandana — was heard to shout: “It didn’t go off! It didn’t go off!”
Fromme, 5 feet 3 inches, weighing 120 pounds and red-haired, was taken by Secret Service agents to the Sacramento Police Department for questioning.
Nessen said the President, who “was not hurt in any way,” had seen the gun, apparently after he turned toward his attacker upon hearing the scuffle behind him.
The President was immediately rushed into the east entrance of the Capitol, the nearest entrance.
Linda Worlow, a secretary in the Capitol who happened to be standing next to Fromme, described what happened:
“I was about to shake the President’s hand. Then I saw the Secret Service man rush the crowd where I was standing.
“I saw the woman with the gun and I hit the ground, so to speak. The woman appeared about ready to fire.”
Worlow said she had seen Fromme a few minutes before the President arrived and said she was talking with a Sacramento policeman.
“I heard her ask him (the patrolman) what the President’s route to the Capitol would be,” Worlow told a reporter. “The policeman was evasive.”
Earlier, Worlow said she had seen Fromme “kind of milling around in the crowd.”
Nessen said the President, who arrived in Sacramento Thursday night, planned to continue his schedule today, despite the attempt on his life.
At 11:30 a.m.—1 1/2 hours after the assassination attempt — Mr. Ford, appearing composed and relaxed, began his address to the special joint session of the California Legislature.
Ironically, his text was on the subject of crime in the United States.
Mr. Ford did not refer to the murder attempt before beginning his address. The only reference to the incident, an oblique one, came from Gov. Brown, who told the legislators:
“It’s really a pleasure to introduce the President of the United States.”
Mr. Ford received a standing ovation.
His address was the first time a President had spoken before a joint legislative session in California.
Before the attempt outside the Capitol, Mr. Ford had addressed 1,000 California business leaders at a State Fair Host Breakfast at the Sacramento Convention Center.
He had returned to the Senator Hotel, located across the street from the Capitol, just before beginning his short walk to meet with Brown in the governor’s office.
The President’s prepared remarks before the legislative session included these lines:
“Peace on 10th St. in Sacramento is as important to the people who walk and work there as peace in the Sinai Desert.
“One man or woman or child becomes just as dead from a switch-blade slash as from a nuclear missile blast. We must prevent both.”
The attempt on Mr. Ford’s life occurred just two blocks from 10th St., which runs adjacent to the Capitol building.
An hour and a half after the attempt on the President’s life, an unidentified woman called United Press International in San Francisco to say a 60-pound bomb was set to go off minutes later — at 11:55 a.m., in the Capitol building while Mr. Ford spoke there.
The woman referred to a letter received recently by San Francisco news media with the letterhead of the “Red Guerrilla Family,” following an explosion in a San Francisco office building. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of Bay Area bombings in recent months.
By RUDY ABRAMSON and WILLIAM ENDICOTT