After serving 35 years of sentence, the man who shot and paralyzed former presidential candidate and Alabama Gov. George Wallace during a 1972 campaign stop in Maryland was released from prison.
Arthur H. Bremer, 57, left the prison before sunrise, said Mark A. Vernarelli, a state prison system spokesman.
Prison officials declined to comment on Bremer's destination or plans.
"The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services believes the public's interest, safety and security is best served by allowing Arthur Bremer to become acclimated to today's world at his own pace and with as much anonymity as possible," an agency statement read.
Wallace, a fiery segregationist during the 1960s, was wounded on May 15, 1972, during a campaign stop in Laurel, Maryland. He abandoned his bid for the Democratic nomination, spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair and died in 1998.
Bremer, a former Milwaukee busboy and janitor, was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 53 years. He had been held at the medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) from Baltimore, since 1979.
He earned his mandatory release through good behavior and by working in prison. Bremer will remain under the supervision of the Division of Parole and Probation until his sentence ends in 2025.
Bremer's diary, parts of which were found in a landfill in 1980, made it clear he was motivated to attempt to kill Wallace by a desire for attention, not a political agenda. He had also stalked President Richard Nixon.
David R. Blumberg, the state Parole Commission chairman, said Friday that Bremer was no longer interested in fame.
"He's kept a decidedly low profile. He's turned down all requests for notoriety and interviews, including some that had money attached to them," he said.
Under the conditions of his release, Bremer must stay away from elected officials and candidates. He would have to undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment if the state considers it necessary, and he cannot leave Maryland without written permission from the state Parole Commission.
The conditions also require Bremer to submit to electronic monitoring.
Wallace family members said Bremer has not been punished enough.
"My father forgave him and my family has forgiven him. That's consistent with God's law," George Wallace Jr. said in Montgomery, Alabama. "Then there is man's law. I doubt the punishment has fit the crime."
Peggy Wallace Kennedy, the governor's daughter, she thought Bremer was "getting out 17 1/2 years too early."
The Alabama governor made his famous "stand in the schoolhouse door" in 1963, decrying the enrollment of two black students at the all-white University of Alabama in a standoff against the Justice Department and the National Guard.
By 1972, he had tempered his racist rhetoric and adopted a more subtle approach, denouncing federal courts over the forced busing of children to integrate schools and pledging to restore "law and order," a phrase sometimes regarded as a coded appeal to white racists.
Wallace recanted his segregationist stand later in his career and won his final term with the help of black votes.
Bremer was partly the inspiration for the deranged Travis Bickle character in the 1976 film "Taxi Driver." The movie, in turn, fascinated John Hinckley, who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in a twisted attempt to impress the film's co-star, Jodie Foster.