In the late afternoon of December 8, 1980, in New York City, fan Mark David Chapman met Lennon as he left his home in the Dakota building for a recording session and got his copy of Double Fantasy autographed; the event of Lennon signing one of his last autographs was caught by a photographer who witnessed this goodwill gesture. Chapman remained in the vicinity of the Dakota building for most of the day as a fireworks demonstration in nearby Central Park distracted the doorman and passers-by.
Later that evening, Lennon and Ono returned to their apartment from recording Ono's single "Walking on Thin Ice" for their next album. At 10.50pm, their limousine pulled up to the entrance of the Dakota. Ono got out of the car first, followed by Lennon. Beyond the main entrance was a door which would opened to a small set of stairs leading into the apartment complex. As Ono went in, Lennon got out of the car and glanced at Chapman, proceeding on through the entrance to the Dakota.
As Lennon walked past him, Chapman called out "Mr. Lennon." As Lennon turned, Chapman crouched into what witnesses called a "combat" stance and fired five hollowpoint bullets. One bullet missed, but four bullets entered John's back and shoulder. One of the four bullets fatally pierced his aorta. Still, Lennon managed to stagger up six steps into the concierge booth where he collapsed, gasping "I'm shot, I'm shot."
Chapman stood there, holding his .38 Charter Arms revolver, which was pulled out of his hands and kicked away by Jose Perdomo who then asked "What have you done, what have you done?", to which Chapman replied "I just shot John Lennon." Chapman then calmly took his coat off, placed it at his feet, took out a copy of J.D. Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and started reading.
Police arrived within minutes, to find Chapman still waiting quietly outside, still reading the book.
The two officers transported Lennon to Roosevelt Hospital in the back of their squad car as they thought John was too badly hurt to take the risk of waiting for an ambulance. One of the officers asked Lennon if he knew who he was. Lennon's reply is reported to have been "Yeah," or simply a nod of the head before he passed out. Despite extensive resuscitative efforts in the Emergency Department, Lennon had lost over 80% of his blood volume and died of shock at the age of 40.
A stunned world was informed of his death by Dr. Stephen Lynn who shortly before had broken the devastating news privately to an anxiously waiting Yoko. However, most Americans learned of the murder via an unusual source. When Lennon was shot, ABC Television was in the midst of airing their ratings bonanza, Monday Night Football. Instead of breaking to a news bulletin and against the wishes of his producers, legendary football announcer Howard Cosell (who had interviewed Lennon on MNF years earlier) went ahead and stunned the nation by announcing news of the murder with one of the most memorable and chilling calls in TV history:
Cosell: This, we have to say it, remember this 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 the Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead...on...arrival.
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." In retrospect, although he might have meant it as a joke and did not expect it to happen, the comment turned out to be chillingly accurate. Another chillingly accurate comment was made in his last interview, where he mentioned that he often felt that somebody was stalking him: first it was federal agents in the 1970s trying to deport him and later the obsessed fan in 1980.