Malcolm X assassin Thomas Hagan freed from prison

Malcolm X

The last man convicted of the murder of Malcolm X has been released from jail. From Wikimedia Commons.

On Feb. 21, 1965, civil rights leader Malcolm X was shot to death at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem during a speaking engagement.  Three men were arrested for the crime, but the prime mover in the shooting was Thomas Hagan.  Hagan served 44 years for the crime.  Previously known as Talmadge Hayer, or Talmadge X Hayer, Thomas Hagan is 69 years old and was granted parole after a dozen requests, and probably a cash advance or two for legal representation.

Assassination of Malcolm X

On that day in 1965, Malcolm X took the podium at the Audubon Ballroom.  As he was beginning to address the crowd, a disturbance broke out in the audience.  As he, and others, attempted to calm the situation, Thomas Hagan, then Talmadge Hayer, shot him in the chest with a sawed off shotgun at point blank range.  Two other men began shooting him with handguns.  Malcolm X was shot more than 16 times and was pronounced dead just after arrival at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, at 3:30 p.m.  Hagan was arrested at the scene after being severely beaten by the crowd and was the only person who confessed to the crime.

The other gunmen

Two additional persons were arrested, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, now known as Muhammed Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam, respectively.  Both maintained their innocence, and Hagan has always said they had nothing to do with the crime.  Even quick cash into more investigations yielded no results in finding who the other gunmen were. They were both paroled in the mid-1980s.

Shooting over ecumenical split

In 1964, Malcolm X had split from the Nation of Islam, which he had been a member of for a dozen years. The shooting reportedly was due to tensions between himself and leader Elijah Muhammad.  Hagan said that had been the inspiration for himself and conspirators to gun him down.

Thomas Hagan repents, is granted 17th attempt at parole

According to the Los Angeles Times, Hagan has expressed regret over the shooting.  This was his 17th appeal for parole, which was granted.  He is married, has a daughter, and since 1988 has been on work release, working in a fast food restaurant among other endeavors, according to the New York Times.  He also earned a Masters in Sociology since his incarceration.