WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) - John W. Hinckley, Jr. nearly killed a sitting president. Today, in a Washington DC courthouse , his hospital and attorney are fighting to get Hinckley more free time in Williamsburg. Eventually, they want him to live permanently in Williamsburg's gated Kingsmill community.
Neighbors in Williamsburg cringe at the thought. They're now speaking out with their concerns.
"I don't really believe that Mr. Hinckley ought to be able to move freely period," Robert Camp told 10 On Your Side's David Culver. It's taken a lot for Robert Camp to say those words aloud. For three years he's kept quiet, worried about his name being attached to a story — a story about an attempted assassin living among us.
Camp lives a few house over from an 86-year-old woman who neighbors say keeps to herself. She's not the problem. It's her son: John Hinckley, Jr. Neighbors call him an unwelcomed visitor. Camp has come face-to-face with Hinckley several times.
"In every instance he was walking the street in our community ... alone." Camp said.
Pam Michael also lives in Kingsmill. She and Camp didn't know each other before a 10 On Your Side interview. Although they were both reluctant to speak in public, they broke their silence for fear of what would happen if Hinckley were released full-time into their community.
"I could not imagine that Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan or John Wilkes Booth would be welcomed in any neighborhood in this country," Michael said.
Unlike those assassins, Hinckley did not kill Reagan, but he came close.
Camp worries about the unknown saying, "I don't think anybody knows what he is capable of if he is not on medication, if he's not supervised."
Hinckley's visits to Williamsburg started as supervised, short trips in 2006. Since then he's had more free time.
Today he's allowed 12, 10-night visits a year to Williamsburg. His family is supposed to supervise him during those visits. The exceptions are his daily walks around Kingsmill and two, three-hour outings each visit.
"I think that's a great surprise to people," Michael said. "I don't think most people have any idea that he's been traveling all around Williamsburg."
Hinckley's elderly mother drives him around town.
According to the Secret Service, he's gone to the movies and the Walls Alive home fashion store in New Town , the PetSmart off of Monticello Avenue. He keeps to a routine, eating at the Bonefish on the ninth night of almost every 10-day visit.
Secret Service agents keep close, trailing the attempted assassin on-and-off during his Williamsburg outings.
Their reports read like a spy novel.
Another book mentioned in court from a separate Hinckley outing is Rawhide Down. This connection is a little more disturbing. The book details the accounts of Reagan's assassination attempt. A special agent testified this book was on a shelf Hinckley focused on in July 2011. Del Wilber is the book's author. He has followed Hinckley's push for release since 2008.
"When I was going into the book-writing process I thought, John Hinckley (is) a man who almost changed history. But when I was done, I realized he fundamentally did change history, because he had changed Ronald Reagan. He changed Ronald Reagan's presidency. And Ronald Reagan changed the world," Wilber said.
Despite the years, the video of Reagan's shooting is still terrifying to watch . The attempt on President Reagan's life was Hinckley's way of winning over the affection of a young actress, Jodie Foster.
A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity.
In a courthouse a few miles from the Washington Hilton where the shooting occurred, there's a heated debate inside a federal courthouse over Hinckley's future.
Hinckley's attorney, Barry Levine, wants to bump the 10-day visits to 17 days, then 24. After that, if the judge agrees, Williamsburg would be Hinckley's permanent home .
"It doesn't enhance the reputation of the neighborhood," Michael added.
St. Elizabeth's hospital in Southeast DC has been Hinckley's home for the past 30 years. His treatment team there is convinced Hinckley is ready to be released. The hospital wants him to be able to drive on his own and be more independent.
In fact, he already has a driver's license. His past medical condition - they claim - are under control.
Neighbors like Michael don't buy it. "I think it's just a risk," she said. "And that risk has been expressed by the prosecutor and the Secret Service."
10 On Your Side obtained documents that show Hinckley's brother and sister are willing to help Hinckley go beyond Williamsburg, starting with Newport News and Hampton.
"Why doesn't the judge have him move in next door to him?" Camp asked. "Why doesn't his legal counsel have him move in next door to him?"
We went to Hinckley's attorney for answers. We waited for him outside the DC courthouse. When asked if the Williamsburg community has a voice in Hinckley's release, Levine said, "Of course
Levine walked back into the courthouse building to wait for his driver. When he walked back outside, we continued with our questions. He posed the question, "Do you think the court should disregard the law and just take an opinion poll conducted by your office?"
Levine continued to walk to his car and left.
We asked neighbors what they want the outcome of this story to be. Michael says she prefers Hinckley stay in the hospital.
"Do you think that's going to happen?" we asked Michael. "I don't know," she replied.
Proceedings are currently underway in DC to determine Hinckley's future in Hampton Roads. It's unclear when Judge Paul Friedman will make a ruling on the matter. Keep it to WAVY.com for updates on this story.
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