Thomas Hagan

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Thomas Hagan
Born (1941-03-16) March 16, 1941 (age 77)
ResidenceSunset Park, Brooklyn, New York City
Other namesTalmadge X Hayer, Mujahid Abdul Halim
Known forTaking part in the Assassination of Malcolm X
Criminal statusParoled by the New York State Division of Parole on March 19, 2010; 8 years ago (2010-03-19)
Criminal penalty20 years to life imprisonment

Thomas Hagan (/ˈhɡən/; March 16, 1941) is a former member of the Nation of Islam[1][2][3] and one of the assassins who killed Malcolm X in 1965. For a while he also went by the name Talmadge X Hayer,[1] and his chosen Islamic name is Mujahid Abdul Halim.[4]

Assassination of Malcolm X[edit]

When Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York, Hagan was shot in the leg by one of Malcolm X's bodyguards while attempting to flee from the building. Hampered by his bullet wound, Hagan was grabbed by several members of the crowd who witnessed the shooting and physically beaten before policemen arrived and arrested Hagan at the scene. He later confessed to the crime but claimed that Thomas Johnson (Khalil Islam) and Norman Butler (Muhammad Abd Al-Aziz), two suspects who were arrested at a later point in time, were not involved in the assassination.[1]

Hagan stated in a 1977 affidavit that he had planned the assassination with four others (Johnson and Butler not being among them) to seek revenge for Malcolm X's public criticism of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. He said that one of his accomplices distracted Malcolm X's bodyguards by starting an argument about having been pickpocketed. When the bodyguards moved toward the diversion and away from Malcolm X, a man with a shotgun stepped up to him and shot him in the chest. After that, Hagan himself and another of his accomplices shot several rounds at Malcolm X with semi-automatic handguns.[1][4]

Later life[edit]

Hagan, Butler, and Johnson all received 20-years-to-life sentences in 1966. During his 45 years in jail, Hagan earned bachelor's and master's degrees; he filed 16 times for parole but was denied each time. Butler was paroled in 1985 and Johnson in 1987. From 1988, Hagan was in a work release program, which allowed him to seek work outside prison and required him to spend only two days a week in a minimum-security facility in Manhattan. The rest of the week, he was allowed to stay with his wife and children.

Among other places, he worked at the Crown Heights Youth Collective, as a counselor at a homeless shelter on Wards Island, and in a fast-food restaurant. Hagan was granted parole in March 2010 and was released from prison at the end of April. He is still a practicing Muslim but has left the Nation of Islam, no longer agreeing with their ideology, and has expressed "regrets and sorrow" for having shot Malcolm X.[1][2][3]

Portrayal in the arts[edit]

Hagan was portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito in the 1992 American biographical film Malcolm X.


  1. ^ a b c d e Andy Newmann, John Eligon: Killer of Malcolm X Is Granted Parole. New York Times, 2010-3-20
  2. ^ a b James Fanelli: Quiet Life of an X Assassin. New York Post, 2008-5-18
  3. ^ a b Associated Press: Assassin of Malcolm X Seeks Parole from New York State High Court. Jet, volume 113, no. 22, 2008-6-9, ISSN 0021-5996
  4. ^ a b David J. Garrow: Does Anyone Care Who Killed Malcolm X?. New York Times, 1993-2-21

Further reading[edit]