On December 8, 1980 at 10:50 p.m. outside the Dakota Apartments on the Upper West Side, a man who had been stalking the Beatles legend stepped out of the shadows and fired five hollow-point bullets from a .38-caliber revolver.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono had just returned to the Dakota after a recording session downtown. They got out of their limousine at the 72nd Street curb.
The psycho was standing just inside the arch to the building. As the Lennons walked by he called out, “Mr. Lennon.” Then, he reportedly dropped into “a combat stance” and fired five shots, emptying the chamber. Four of the bullets struck John Lennon, two in the left side of his back and two in his left shoulder. All four caused massive internal damage and bleeding.
Lennon staggered up six steps to the room at the end of the entrance used by the concierge and said, “I’m shot.” He fell to the pavement.
THE SHOOTER JUST STOOD THERE
New York City cops Steve Spire and Peter Cullen were in their patrol car at 72nd Street and Broadway when they heard a report of shots fired at the Dakota. They raced to the scene and found the shooter “very calmly” standing there.
He had dropped the revolver. He had a paperback copy of J.D. Salinger’s ’The Catcher in the Rye,’ and a cassette recorder with 14 hours of Beatles tapes.
The second police team to arrive, Bill Gamble and James Moran, picked up Lennon and stretched him out on the back seat of their patrol car. Lennon was still alive. One of the cops asked him, “Are you John Lennon?” Lennon moaned, “Yeah.”
The cops sped to nearby Roosevelt Hospital.
”I HELD HIS HEART IN MY HAND”
In the emergency room, Dr Stephan Lynn and his team worked frantically to try to bring the music icon back to life.
“He had no signs of life, no blood pressure, no pulse,” Dr Lynn later told reporters. “We opened his left chest with a scalpel. I held his heart in my hand as the nurses rapidly transfused blood. But there was no way we could repair the massive injury to all of the blood vessels in the body.”
John Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:15 p.m. No one could have lived more than a few minutes with such injuries, said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Elliott Gross.
Yoko Ono was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, crying “Tell me it’s not true,” She was led away in shock when she learned her husband was dead.
PEOPLE WEEPING, PRAYING
Within minutes, hundreds of people, many openly weeping, began to gather at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota, reciting prayers, singing Lennon’s songs and burning candles.
TV sports reporters interrupted a tied game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins with less than a minute to play with a news bulletin of Lennon’s murder. The NBC network broke into its East Coast feed of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson with a bulletin of the tragedy.
New York rock station WNBEW-FM immediately suspended all programming and opened its lines to calls from listeners. Stations throughout the country switched to special programming devoted to Lennon and Beatles music.
Throughout the world there was an outpouring of grief on an unprecedented scale. At least three Beatles fans are known to have committed suicide.
Lennon was cremated on December 12 at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. His ashes were given to Yoko Ono, who, instead of holding a funeral, asked fans around the world to observe ten minutes of silence.
The shooter, Mark David Chapman, pleaded guilty to murdering the music icon and was sentenced to 20-years-to-life. Now 64, he has been denied parole ten times since he became eligible in 2000. His eleventh parole hearing is scheduled for August, 2020.
Imagine all the people living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world