John Schrank was born in Bavaria in 1876. In 1889, he moved with his family to New York City, where his parents soon died. To support himself, Schrank got a job working for his uncle, who owned a tavern in New York. However, his uncle and aunt died not long after, causing him great emotional distress. They left Schrank all of their possessions, which he promptly sold and began traveling the east coast.

On an anniversary of President McKinley's death, Schrank had a dream in which he saw the dead president lying in his coffin. Suddenly, the corpse rose and pointed to a figure in the robe of a monk who, upon closer examination, was none other than Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States. President McKinley turned to face Schrank stating, "This is my murderer! Avenge my death!"

On September 14, 1912, John Schrank was writing poetry in his home when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see President McKinley behind him, stating "Do not let a murderer sit in the president's chair." Schrank packed up his things and a .38 pistol before departing New York City by train. He then took several random train trips through the south before turning north and going between cities in the midwest.

On October 14, 1912, Schrank reached Milwaukee, where he checked into a hotel under the assumed name, "Albert Ross". He then proceeded to the Hotel Gilpatrick, where Teddy Roosevelt was dining with his campaign advisors. At 8PM, Roosevelt moved out of the hotel towards his automobile, where he stood on the vehicle's floorboard to wave to the cheering crowd.

At this moment, Schrank raised his pistol, aiming it at the former President's head. A spectator, Adam Bittner, saw the move and struck his harm downwards. The gun went off, firing a bullet that struck Roosevelt in the chest and knocked him down. A mob tackled Schrank and began beating him brutally, while some people ran off to grab ropes to lynch him in the street. Roosevelt managed to rise to his feet and said, "Don't hurt the poor creature" as policemen ran into the crowd and dragged Schrank into the hotel.

After the assassination attempt, Roosevelt proceeded to go to the Milwaukee Auditorium and make his speech stating, "I'm going to make that speech if it's the last thing on earth I do." It was later discovered that the bullet had struck his eyeglasses case and his speech manuscript before entering his chest, most likely saving his life. Roosevelt survived the wound, but the bullet was never extracted since it was not in a dangerous area.

Schrank, on the other hand, was never tried for the attempted assassination. Instead, he was sent to the Northern State Hospital for the mentally disturbed in Oshkosh. Later, he was transferred to the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin. He was not allowed to receive any visitors or communications from the outside world for the next thirty years, until his death on September 16, 1943.

Schrank told doctors of the dreams that he was having and that he had also wanted to shoot Roosevelt since he was running for a third presidential term. He had hoped that shooting him would send a warning message to any other presidents that wanted to try for a third term. The doctors declared him insane after some examinations, declaring that he suffered from grandiose and insane delusions. His ultimate mission obviously failed since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to not three, but four terms, of presidency shortly after.