NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
13th May, 1981 : Pope John Paul II was shot by a Turkish gunman today, but after a five-hour operation surgeons said they hope he would make a full recovery. The Pope was driving in his white, open-top jeep-style vehicle through a crowd of 20,000 in St Peter’s Square. It was his weekly audience in which he blesses the crowds. He was hit by four bullets, two of which lodged in the lower intestine. Two women near him were also hit and one was seriously injured.
The gunman, who used a Browning 9mm pistol, was seized by police as the Pope’s jeep drove off at high speed. One witness said: “It was awful. There was blood on the Pope’s cassock.” Another said the gunman might have been drugged: “He had a crazy stare.” The police had to surround the assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, aged 23, to stop his being lynched by the outraged crowd.
Agca, of Armenian extraction, escaped from a Turkish jail where he was being held for the murder of a Turkish newspaper editor.