Who Killed John Lennon? Who Shot John Lennon and Why?

It has been almost 37 years since John Lennon’s death and his fans are still mourning the loss. He was fatally shot by Mark David Chapman in December 1980 outside his apartment building in New York City. Now Lennon’s kept alive in the memories of millions with the help of his songs.

John Lennon’s music touched the hearts of millions of people, which is why his memory has endured. For almost 37 years, people have been wondering, who killed John Lennon? Who shot John Lennon and why? If you’ve also been asking these questions, then hang on, as we have all the info for you right here!

Mark David Chapman’s Murderous Plan

Reportedly, Mark David Chapman started planning to kill Lennon three months before the murder. Like many, Chapman was also a huge fan of Lennon and the Beatles. In fact, he idolized the singer. Inspired by Lennon’s music, he also played the guitar.

However, once he became a Christian, Chapman started resenting the musician after Lennon stated that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” A lot of people were furious about Lennon’s statement and there were demonstrations, boycotts, and album burnings.


Jan Reeves, a sister of one of Chapman’s friends, said Chapman “seemed really angry toward John Lennon and he kept saying he could not understand why John Lennon had said it [that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus]. According to Mark, there should be nobody more popular than the Lord Jesus Christ. He said it was blasphemy.”

Chapman said, “He told us to imagine no possessions and there he was, with millions of dollars and yachts and farms and country estates, laughing at people like me who had believed the lies and bought the records and built a big part of their lives around his music.”

Chapman admitted listening to Lennon songs weeks before Lennon was murdered, which infuriated him even more. Chapman explained, “I would listen to this music and I would get angry at him, for saying that he didn’t believe in God…and that he didn’t believe in the Beatles. This was another thing that angered me, even though this record had been done at least 10 years previously.

“I just wanted to scream out loud, ‘Who does he think he is, saying these things about God and heaven and the Beatles?’ Saying that he doesn’t believe in Jesus and things like that. At that point, my mind was going through a total blackness of anger and rage. So I brought the Lennon book home [describing Lennon’s life in New York], into this The Catcher in the Rye milieu where my mindset is Holden Caulfield and anti-phoniness.”

Told His Wife about His Plan

To put his plan into action, Chapman went to New York in October 1980. He then went to Atlanta to collect ammunition from his friend and in November 1980, he returned to New York.

Then, moved by the film Ordinary People, Chapman went home to Hawaii and told his wife, Gloria, that he wanted to kill Lennon. Moreover, he also showed Gloria the guns and ammunition he had. Unfortunately, Gloria did not inform the authorities or mental health services.

Chapman made an appointment to meet a clinical psychologist, but before it happened, he flew back to New York in December 1980. The night before Lennon was killed, Chapman and his wife discussed him getting help for his problems. Reportedly, Chapman had convinced his wife that he’d dropped the idea of killing Lennon and was in New York to write a children’s book.

Who Shot John Lennon and Why?

In New York, Mark David Chapman was staying in the Sheraton hotel. He had a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in which he wrote, “This is my statement,” signing it as Holden Caulfield.

On December 8, 1980, Chapman stood near the entrance of the Dakota apartment building where John Lennon resided.

Around five in the evening, Lennon along with Yoko Ono left the building for a recording session. In fact, Chapman approached Lennon, shook hands with him, and asked for his autograph on a copy of the album Double Fantasy. A photographer even snapped Lennon signing the album for Chapman.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono 1980

Brenda Chase/Newsmakers)

Around 10:50 p.m., Lennon’s limousine returned to his building. Lennon and Ono walked past Chapman and towards the entrance of the building. From the street behind them, Chapman shot Lennon four times with a .38 special revolver. Three of the bullets hit Lennon in the back and one hit his left shoulder.

After he shot Lennon, Chapman dropped his gun and stayed at the scene, appearing to be reading The Catcher in the Rye. The authorities who arrived at the crime scene arrested Chapman and he did not resist.

In his statement, Chapman said, “I’m sure the big part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil.”

John Lennon was pronounced dead on December 8 at 11:07 p.m.

Chapman was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life. In 1981, Chapman was imprisoned at Attica Correctional Facility outside Buffalo, New York.

In 2012, the man who killed John Lennon was taken to the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York. It looks like Chapman will spend the rest of his life in prison as he has been denied parole nine times.

During a parole board interview, Chapman revealed that he killed Lennon for the attention. When Chapman was asked about the attention he had received, he said, “Absolutely it was not worth it. Absolutely ridiculously selfish act to take another human’s life so that I could be pumped into, you know, something that I wasn’t to begin with. I deeply regret it.”

Anniversary of John Lennon's Death

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