Ron Edmonds, who won Pulitzer for images at Reagan assassination attempt, dead at 77

Ron Edmonds, Reagan assassination

Ron Edmonds, an Associated Press photographer who won a Pulitzer Prize for his photographs of the attempted assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan in March 1981, died Friday. He was 77.

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Edmonds died at a hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, The Washington Post reported. His wife, Grace Felician Edmonds, said he died of pneumonia linked to a bacterial infection.

On March 30, 1981, Edmonds was assigned to take photographs as Reagan finished speaking members to the AFL-CIO at the Washington Hilton, according to The Associated Press.

As Reagan exited the hotel, John Hinckley Jr. used a revolver to shoot at the president, his aides and his Secret Service detail.

Edmonds was the only photographer to catch the full series of events, taking photographs across the roof of Reagan’s limousine as the president was wounded and shoved into the vehicle, the Post reported.

The vehicle sped to an area hospital, where doctors worked to save Reagan’s life.

Edmonds then turned his attention to the sidewalk, where he snapped photographs of Hinckley buried under a pile of Secret Service agents, according to the newspaper. He also captured images of the others wounded by Hinckley’s shooting -- White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty.

“Everything happened in such a quick, split-second. If you looked to your right to see what the shot, what the noise was, and looked back, the president was already gone,” Edmonds told the AP for a retrospective story. “The president immediately, when the first pop went off, he kind of grimaced in his face and that’s when I pushed the shutter down.”

Edmonds’ coverage and photographs earned him the Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography, according to the AP.

“I wish it had been for a picture that had not been of violence, of people being hurt,” Edmonds said after learning that he had won the award.

Ronald Allen Edmonds was born on June 16, 1946, in Richmond, California, and grew up in Sacramento, the Post reported.

He took a photography class at a community college in 1968. He sold his first image -- an antiwar demonstration in Sacramento -- to United Press International for $25, according to the newspaper.

“I saw it in the newspaper the next day, and I knew what I wanted to do for a living,” Edmonds wrote in a 2013 essay.

Edmonds joined UPI in 1978 and moved to the AP two years later.

During his 29-year career with the AP, Edmonds covered four presidential administrations and events including Super Bowls and Olympics.

In 2013, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the White House News Photographers Association, the Post reported.

“I’ve had some days where I got up and practically every newspaper in the world had my picture on the front page,” Edmonds once said. “That’s pretty awesome.”

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