On the morning of 8 December 1980, photographer Annie Leibovitz went to Ono and Lennon's apartment to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stone. She had promised Lennon a photo with Ono would make the cover, but initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone. Leibovitz recalled that "nobody wanted [Ono] on the cover". Lennon insisted that both he and his wife be on the cover, and after shooting the pictures, Leibovitz left their apartment. After the photo shoot Lennon gave what would be his last ever interview to San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin for a music show on the RKO Radio Network. At 5:00 p.m., Lennon and Ono left their apartment to mix the track "Walking on Thin Ice", an Ono song featuring Lennon on lead guitar, at Record Plant Studio.
As Lennon and Ono walked to their limousine, they were approached by several people seeking autographs, among them, Mark David Chapman. It was common for fans to wait outside the Dakota to see Lennon and get his autograph. Chapman, a 25-year-old hospital worker from Honolulu, Hawaii, had first come to New York to kill Lennon in November but changed his mind and returned home. He silently handed Lennon a copy of Double Fantasy, and Lennon obliged with an autograph. After signing the album Lennon politely asked him, "Is this all you want?" Chapman nodded in agreement. Photographer and Lennon fan Paul Goresh snapped a photo of the encounter.
The Lennons spent several hours at the Record Plant studio before returning to the Dakota at about 10:50 p.m. Lennon decided against eating out so he could be home in time to say goodnight to five-year-old son Sean before he went to sleep and because Lennon liked to oblige any fans with autographs or pictures that had been waiting a long time to see him outside his home. They exited their limousine on 72nd Street, even though the car could have been driven into the more secure courtyard.
The Dakota's doorman, Jose Perdomo, and a cab driver saw Chapman standing in the shadows by the ...