Thomas Hagan
Most Notorious Assassins

Thomas Hagan

Thomas Hagan is a former member of the Nation of Islam and one of the assassins who killed Malcolm X in 1965. For a while he also went by the name of Talmadge X Hayer and his chosen Islamic name is Mujahid Abdul Halim.

Assassination of Malcolm X

When Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York, the police arrested Hagan at the scene of the crime. 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.

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. 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 handguns.

Later life

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 on, Hagan was allowed to participate 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. In March 2010, Hagan was finally granted parole 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 regret for having shot Malcolm X.