WASHINGTON — John Hinckley Jr. shot four people outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981, but two of his victims understandably got most of the attention: President Reagan and his press secretary, James Brady.

Two other men – Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty – each took a bullet to protect the president. Thirty-five years later, they could see Hinckley freed.

On Thursday, both were still coming to terms with the news that Hinckley, now 61, will soon be released from a Washington psychiatric hospital to live with his 90-year-old mother in Williamsburg, Virginia. A judge ordered Wednesday that Hinckley can leave the hospital as soon as Aug. 5, with multiple restrictions.

The would-be assassin was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and he has gradually gained more freedom. For the past two-plus years, he has spent more than half his time at his mother’s house in a gated community overlooking a golf course.

McCarthy, 67, the longtime police chief in Orland Park, Illinois, understands Hinckley’s pending release, but that doesn’t mean that he agrees with it.

“I have a lot of not very great Christian thoughts about him,” McCarthy said Thursday. “It was a terrible act. It’s unforgivable as far as I’m concerned.”

Delahanty, 80, said he’s not crazy about the decision but is resigned to it. “I’m probably not too enthused with it, but what can you do?” he said.

McCarthy used to get a phone call to let him know every time Hinckley was about to leave the hospital, but eventually he asked for the calls to stop. However, he was a little annoyed that he wasn’t told in advance about Hinckley’s release. Instead, he found out from reporters.

“I don’t have to agree with it, but I expected it. There are very few cases that people, after a period of time, are not viewed as no longer being a danger to themselves or others,” McCarthy said. “I hope they’re right about it.”

McCarthy recovered from the gunshot wound to his chest, was back on duty three months later and ended up serving another five years on the presidential protective detail.

He admired Reagan’s good humor – “I guess I forgot to duck” was one of the famous quips – and felt a close bond with the president from their shared experience.

“He set a great example, not only for me personally, but for the country and the world,” McCarthy said.

Reagan came closer to death than almost anyone knew at the time, but recovered. He died in 2004, and Brady died in 2014, his death later ruled a homicide resulting from the gunshot.

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