At 10:50 p.m. on 8 December 1980, Mark David Chapman shot and fatally wounded John Lennon in front of Lennon's residence, the Dakota, when Lennon and Ono returned from recording Ono's single "Walking on Thin Ice" for their next album. Earlier that day at around 5 p.m., Lennon and Ono left their apartment in the historic Dakota on Central Park West in New York City to go to their recording studio to supervise the transfer of some of the Double Fantasy album numbers to singles. David Geffen, their record producer and friend, said that more than 700,000 album copies had already been sold up to that time. As they were leaving the Dakota, they were approached by several people who were seeking autographs. Among them was a man who would be later identified as Mark David Chapman. John Lennon scribbled an autograph on the Double Fantasy album cover for Chapman.The Lennons spent several hours at the studio on West 44th Street - returning to the Dakota at about 10:50 p.m. They exited their limousine on the 72nd Street curb even though a car could have driven through the entrance and into the courtyard. Three witnesses: a doorman at the entrance, an elevator operator, and a cab driver who had just dropped off a passenger saw Chapman standing in the shadows by the arch. The Lennons walked by, and after Yoko had opened the inner door and had walked inside — when Lennon was the only person inside the entrance archway — Chapman called out, "Mr. Lennon." Then he dropped into "a combat stance" and shot Lennon four times with hollow point rounds from a Charter Arms .38 revolver. According to the autopsy, two shots struck Lennon in the left side of his back and two in his left shoulder. All four caused serious internal damage and bleeding. The fatal shot pierced Lennon's aorta.According to police, Lennon staggered up six steps to the room at the end of the entrance used by the concierge, said, "I'm shot," then collapsed. After shooting Lennon, Chapman calmly sat down on the sidewalk and waited. The doorman walked to Chapman and reportedly said, "Do you know what you've just done?" Chapman replied, in a matter-of-fact tone, "I just shot John Lennon."The first policemen at the scene were Officers Steve Spiro and Peter Cullen, who were in the patrol car at 72nd Street and Broadway when they heard a report of shots fired at the Dakota. The officers found Chapman sitting "very calmly" on the sidewalk. They reported that Chapman had dropped the revolver after firing it, and that he had a paperback book, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and a cassette recorder with over 10 audio cassettes, which had 14 hours of Beatles songs on them. The second police team at the Dakota; Officers Bill Gamble and James Moran, rushed Lennon to Roosevelt Hospital. Officer Moran said they stretched Lennon out on the back seat and that the singer was "moaning." Moran asked, "Do you know who you are?" Lennon nodded slightly and tried to speak, but could only manage to make a gurgling sound. Lennon lost consciousness shortly after.John Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital at approximately 11:15 p.m. by Dr. Stephen Lyman. The cause of death was reported as hypovolemic shock, as a result of losing more than 80% of his blood volume. Dr. Elliott M. Gross - the Chief Medical Examiner - said after the autopsy that no-one could have lived more than a few minutes with such injuries. The use of hollow point bullets allowed for substantial internal bleeding. Chapman's killing of Lennon was intended to be merciless.Yoko Ono, crying "Tell me it's not true", was taken to Roosevelt Hospital and led away in shock after she learned that her husband was dead. Geffen later issued a statement in her behalf: "John loved and prayed for the human race. Please do the same for him."Within the first minutes after the news broadcasts announcing the shooting, people began to gather at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota, reciting prayers, singing Lennon's songs and burning candles.On 14 December 1980, all around the world, people paused to stand alone or come together in silence, heeding a plea from Yoko Ono that they take 10 minutes to remember the former Beatle.The first national transmission of the news across the USA was on the fledgling Cable News Network, on which anchorwoman Kathleen Sullivan reported that Lennon had been shot and was en route to a New York hospital (his death had not yet been confirmed).When Lennon was shot, ABC TV channel was in the midst of airing an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. After having the news fed directly to his headset by ABC News chief Roone Arledge, legendary football announcer Howard Cosell (who had interviewed Lennon on MNF years earlier) announced the news of the murder:"This, we have to say it, is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City. John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous perhaps of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival."The news was broken on competing network NBC in a traditional manner: a comedy piece on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was interrupted by an anonymous announcer voicing the news bulletin over a text slide visual, then returning, in what had to seem surreal to viewers, to the Carson sketch that had been interrupted.When reporters questioned Paul McCartney on how he felt about his friend's death, McCartney, who had been caught off guard, simply muttered "Drag, isn't it?" This glib response was criticised at the time, though McCartney was clearly shaken, and later stated in a Playboy interview that "I had just finished a whole day in shock and I said, 'It's a drag.' I meant drag in the heaviest sense of the word, you know: 'It's a — DRAG.' But, you know, when you look at that in print, it says, 'Yes, it's a drag.' Matter of fact." George Harrison prepared a more comprehensive press release and re-wrote the song "All Those Years Ago" for Lennon. Ringo Starr and his wife flew to New York to comfort Ono.When asked once in the 1960s how he expected to die, Lennon's offhand answer was "I'll probably be popped off by some loony." Several 1960's Beatles concerts in the United States and Canada did have strengthened security because of threats against the individual lives of the group members, and Starr himself claims to have performed at a Montreal concert with his cymbals positioned so as to block his view from the audience. In retrospect, although Lennon might have meant it as a joke and did not expect it to happen, the comment turned out to be chillingly accurate. Another comment was made in his last interview (recorded on the morning of his death), where he mentioned that he often felt that somebody was stalking him (although he was referring to federal agents in the 1970s who had tried to deport him).
Lennon was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, and his ashes were kept by Yoko Ono. Some believe his ashes were scattered in Strawberry Fields, a place dedicated to him in New York City.
Chapman pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life. He has been denied parole several times and remains incarcerated at Attica Correctional Facility.
Memorials and tributes
Lennon has been the subject of numerous memorials and tributes, principally the Strawberry Fields Memorial, constructed in Central Park across the street from the Dakota building. In 2002, Liverpool also renamed its airport the Liverpool John Lennon Airport, and adopted the motto "Above us only sky"...
Every December 8th - the anniversary of his death - there is a memorial in front of Capitol Records on Vine Street in Hollywood, California. It includes speakers discussing Lennon, musical tributes, and group singing.