Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mark David Chapman: The Man Who Killed John Lennon

Do It, Do It, Do It!

Mark Chapman was torn, he would later say, between the adult and the child inside him. The child won. He stayed at the Dakota.

At 8 p.m., Goresh announced he was going back to his home in New Jersey: It was obvious the Lennons had gone back to the Record Plant, their recording studio, and might not be back until after midnight.

Chapman pleaded for him to stay. "I'd wait," he said. "You never know if you'll see him again."

Goresh didn't catch the hint. Chapman was left with doorman Jose Perdomo to talk to.

And two others.

He told Gaines: "I remember I was praying to God [to keep me from killing Lennon] and I was also praying to the devil to give me the opportunity. … 'Cause I knew I would not have the strength on my own.''

******

At 10:50 p.m. a white limousine pulled around the corner and stopped at the curb. Yoko Ono got out first. Lennon started to follow her into the building.

In a statement recorded by police hours later, Chapman declared, "He walked past me, and then a voice in my head said, 'Do it, do it, do it,' over and over again, saying `Do it, do it, do it, do it,' like that."

He called out, "Mr. Lennon!"

Lennon turned to see Chapman, crouching combat style with both hands on the pistol.

Chapman's statement continues: "I pulled the gun out of my pocket, I handed over to my left hand, I don't remember aiming, I must have done it, but I don't remember drawing the bead or whatever you call it. And I just pulled the trigger steady five times."

Lennon turned to escape, but four of the five bullets tore into him. To Chapman's amazement, he did not fall but managed to run up six steps into the concierge's station. He said "I'm shot," then fell face down.

There was a subway entrance across the street, but Chapman made no effort to flee.

Perdomo turned to him: "Do you know what you done? Do you know what you done!" He knocked the gun from Chapman's hand and kicked it away.

Chapman took off his hat and coat and threw them on the sidewalk. He knew the police were coming and wanted them to see he wasn't hiding a gun. He took The Catcher in the Rye out of his pocket and tried to read it as he paced the sidewalk and waited.

A police car roared up to the Dakota and two uniformed police jumped out. One ran inside. Perdomo pointed out Chapman to the other.

Chapman put his hands in the air. "Don't hurt me," he pleaded. "I'm unarmed."

"I acted alone," he said as the officer spread-eagled him against the wall and searched him.

The police cuffed him and put him in the back seat of their car.

"I'm sorry I gave you guys all this trouble," he kept telling them.

 

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