When Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York, the police arrested Thomas 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