Assassinations and Near Misses: 32 Shocking Stories You’ve Never Heard

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1Leslie Coffelt

Leslie Coffelt

White House Police officer Leslie Coffelt was fatally shot while protecting President Truman in an assassination attempt but managed to kill his attacker with a headshot from 30-feet away before dying.

2. Alberta Williams King, Martin Luther King’s mother was also assassinated. A deranged man who believed Christianity was harming African Americans gunned her down as she played the organ in church. He was sentenced to death but this was commuted to life imprisonment because the Kings opposed capital punishment.

3. Two homosexual lovers, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, assassinated the king of Athens, Hipparchus, and triggered events that would usher in democracy. They became known as the Tyrannicides, the preeminent symbol of democracy to ancient Athenians.

4. There were 6 assassins sent to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand and 1 of them threw a bomb that exploded under the wrong car. When the assassination failed, the assassin took a cyanide pill and jumped into the river. The pill only induced vomiting and the river was only 13 cm deep, so he failed at killing himself too.

5. María Santos Gorrostieta Salazar, the mayor of Tiquicheo Mexico, survived 3 assassination attempts and despite her wounds refused to resign. In 2011, her term as mayor ended and her police protection was withdrawn. In November 2012, she was abducted, stabbed and brutally beaten to death.

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6Alexander I

Alexander I

Alexander I of Yugoslavia refused to attend public events on Tuesdays after three family members died on that day of the week. After finally being forced to appear on Tuesday, he was promptly assassinated.

7. The very first attempted assassination of a United States president was stopped when then President, Andrew Jackson, beat his assailant (Richard Lawrence) brutally with his cane before being stopped by a nearby congressman.

8. A man named Oliver Sipple who saved President Ford from assassination then had his life ruined as the media outed him as gay.

9. Ahmad Shah Massoud was an Afghan resistance leader, who in April 2001 warned the European Parliament about a large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil being imminent. He was assassinated on September 9, 2001, 2 days before the 9/11 attacks.

10. A Canadian inventor named Gerald Bull tried to create a “supergun” which could fire satellites into orbit from a 512 foot-long barrel embedded inside a hill. When Western funding failed, he turned to the military application of his ideas for Saddam Hussein, but then he was assassinated in Brussels.

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11Henriette Caillaux

Henriette Caillaux

In 1914, Henriette Caillaux, the wife of the French prime minister assassinated Gaston Calmette, a newspaper editor to prevent him from leaking that she and her husband had been dating while still married to their previous spouses. She was acquitted for 'uncontrollable female emotions.'

12. Claudius, Caligula’s uncle survived the assassination of his nephew by hiding behind a curtain. As he was the last man of his family, he was declared emperor. Despite his lack of experience, he proved to be an able administrator. He had also survived past purges due to his infirmity.

13. Talaat Pasha, the mastermind of the Armenian Genocide, was assassinated by an Armenian revolutionary and genocide survivor. Despite the assassination occurring in broad daylight, and with the assassin pleading guilty, he was acquitted by reason of temporary insanity. He is a national hero in Armenia.

14. Theodore Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt. Despite being was shot in the chest, he proceeded to deliver a 90-minute speech. He opened with: “Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”

15. In 1835, a man named Giuseppe Mario Fieschi with two other conspirators attempted to assassinate Louis Philippe I, the king of France with a hand-made 25-barrel rifle. The discharge killed 18 people and wounded 22. The king was only grazed by a bullet.

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16King Louis XV

King Louis XV

King Louis XV of France was stabbed with a knife in an assassination attempt and fearing he's dying requested to confess and asked forgiveness from his wife for having a number of affairs. He didn't die. The knife only penetrated less than an inch of skin.

17. On September 8th, 1935, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, senator Huey Long was assassinated by Carl Weiss. Years later, the case was reopened, and it was revealed that senator Long was accidentally shot to death by his bodyguards, who opened fire on Carl Weiss when he pulled out his gun.

18. Alboin, the king of the Lombards took his wife Rosamund as a spoil of war after he killed her father in war. At one point, he made her drink from her father's skull, which he kept as a trophy and fashioned into a mug, telling her to "drink merrily with your father." She had him assassinated.

19. In 1976, Bob Marley planned a non-political free concert 'Smile Jamaica' which led to an assassination attempt. Bob would survive and perform the 90-minute set, still healing from the gunshot wound.

20. There was a plot to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State concurrently with the Lincoln assassination. The Secretary of State was stabbed in the face but lived, and the assailant who was to kill the Vice President got drunk instead.

21Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

During her 67-year reign, Queen Victoria survived at least 7 assassination attempts. One attempt was by an 18-year-old hunchbacked dwarf, who was later caught when police rounded up every hunchback and dwarf in London.

22. Ulysses S. Grant was also planned to be assassinated along with Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth but did not attend the play at Ford Theater because their wives were not on good terms.

23. Japanese right-wing nationalists tried to assassinate Matsutarō Shōriki for allowing foreigners to play baseball in the Jingu Stadium. He survived but received a 16-inch-long scar from a broadsword during the assassination attempt.

24. James Hinds, the first sitting member of Congress to be assassinated was an Arkansas Congressman who was murdered by the K.K.K in 1868. Despite identifying his killer by name before his death, the assassin was never arrested or charged with a crime.

25. As a knife-wielding assassin jumped out of a crowd of people and lunged toward Maumoon Gayoom, the President of the Maldives, a quick-thinking Boy Scout who was standing in the crowd in his uniform grabbed the blade and saved the leader’s life. As in the US, the motto of the Maldivian Boy Scouts is: “Be Prepared.”

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