John Lennon’s Doorman Recalls Terrifying Moment He Collapsed After Being Shot: ‘I Had Blood on My Hands’

The Beatles member was murdered outside his New York City apartment building 43 years ago.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Paul McCartney, John Lennon
Image Credit: Shutterstock

John Lennon‘s doorman from the day he was shot and killed has spoken out about the tragedy, in a new heartbreaking interview. Jay Hastings was working at the Dakota, where the Beatles member lived on December 8, 1980, and told PEOPLE all about that fateful day, detailing exactly what took place the moment after the shooting happened.

“I remember everything like it was yesterday,” he told the outlet, referring to when John was killed by Mark David Chapman in front of his Upper West Side residential building at 10:50 p.m. He said he first encountered another doorman named Jose, who was the first one to see John after the shooting.

John and Yoko with their son Sean. (David Magnus/Shutterstock)

 “I could hear Jose outside, ‘Oh Mr. Lennon.’ Boom, boom, doors close and I could hear the quick march of heels coming up the driveway,” he recalled. “So I walked over to the counter, where there was a hidden security button to unlock the door, so you could get into the Dakota proper.”

“As I was there with my finger on the button is when he [John] came running up, immediately after hearing gunshots, and he’s like, ‘I’m shot, I’m shot’ and he just ran past me to the back office, and just collapsed,” he continued.

The Beatles included Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. (Shutterstock)

Jay went on to explain that he quickly processed what had happened but at the time, “you’re not computing the end result,” and he didn’t know the severity of the wound. “[I] didn’t know how bad he was shot,” he said. “I went into to the back office, Yoko [Ono, John’s wife] was there, like right behind him, screaming, ‘Get an ambulance. Get an ambulance.’ ”

He also said that Jose “had already pushed the panic button that was in the doorman’s booth, and that just overwhelms the outgoing line with a constant message to the police, pre-recorded.” In an attempt to make sure to get the police’s attention, Jay called 911 from the Dakota building.

After Jose then told him that John’s shooter was still outside and unarmed, he “grabbed the billy club on top of the safe” and went “down the stairs, because I was going to clock this guy, because I was afraid he was going to get away.”

As he approached Chapman, Jay admitted he noticed he was “facing the wall, doing something . . . He was reading a book.” When police arrived a short time later, they initially thought Jay was the culprit. “I looked a little crazy, I already had blood on my hands, I just had my shirt on, my white shirt with no tie,” he said. He made sure to point police to Chapman, who was then arrested and eventually sentenced to 20 years-to-life for shooting and killing John.

John was 40-years-old at the time of his death. The talented musician left behind his wife, Yoko, and their son, Sean Lennon, who was five-years-old at the time of his passing, as well as his oldest son, Julian Lennon, who was 17. A new Apple TV+ docuseries called John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial, premiered on Wednesday and reexamines the murder.