December 8, 1980
Manhattan, New York
John Lennon is murdered by Mark David Chapman
Chapman targeted the lead singer of The Beatles simply because he was famous. He stated during a parole board meeting “It wasn’t anything against her husband as a person, only as a famous person. If he was less famous than three or four other people on the list, he would not have been shot. And that’s the truth.” Along with Lennon, Chapman considered killing Johnny Carson and Elizabeth Taylor, though he decided on Lennon because he was more accessible; Lennon was known for taking time to greet fans and sign autographs.
Chapman had asked Lennon for an autograph earlier in the day. The picture included shows Chapman (right) receiving an autograph from Lennon (left) hours before the fatal shooting. As Lennon passed by Chapman for the second time that day, Chapman fired hollow-point bullets from a .38 Special revolver, striking Lennon with 4 of the 5 shots. Almost all the shots would have been fatal on their own as each hit major arteries near Lennon’s heart. He was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead on arrival having lost more than 80% of his blood volume.
Directly after the shooting, Chapman remained at the scene casually reading J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, stating repeatedly the novel was his statement. He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life. Chapman is currently serving time in prison having been denied parole 9 times.