CRIME

White House shooting suspect charged with attempting to assassinate Obama

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

(AP) - An Idaho man charged with firing two shots at the White House last week has been charged with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama or his staff.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez. Photo: U.S. Park Police

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, will be taken back from a federal court in Pittsburgh to face the charges in Washington, D.C.

Ortega will remain in federal custody at least until a magistrate in Washington can determine if he should remain jailed until his trial on the charge, which carries up to life in prison.

The 21-year-old Ortega said only, "Yes, ma'am" when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charges.

The U.S. Secret Service found two bullets had hit the White House and agents caught up with Ortega-Hernandez in Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a four-day search.

Police arrested the 21-year-old Idaho man at a hotel after a desk clerk recognized his picture. Ortega was scheduled to make his first appearance at 2 p.m. Thursday in federal court in Pittsburgh and many questions remained about his motive and background.

Authorities are investigating the man's mental health and say there are indications he believed attacking the White House was part of a personal mission from God, according to two different law enforcement officials who spoke with The Associated Press.

Oscar Ortega-Hernandez - Arrest Warrant and Complaint

There are also indications the man had become obsessed with Obama and the White House, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

On Thursday, the mother of his former fiancee said Ortega had always been well-mannered and considerate in the four years she had known him. In recent months, though, Ortega began making statements that were out of character, said Kimberly Allen, who lives in Shelley, Idaho.

She said Ortega told family he believed he was Jesus Christ and that the world was going to end. Allen said the family was worried when he went to Utah recently, where he said he had business, and didn't come back. She said they were "just flabbergasted" to hear he was wanted in Washington.

"I believe that the boy needs help," Allen said.

Allen's daughter, Jessica Galbraith, who was engaged to Ortega and is the mother of their 2-year-old son, declined to comment except to say: "I love him, and I'm here for him."

Shots were fired at the building Friday night. Agents discovered Tuesday that one of the two bullets hit the exterior and a second cracked a window on the second floor residential level, just behind the rounded portico visible from the south side of the White House.

That bullet was stopped by protective ballistic glass. The window that was hit is in front of the so-called Yellow Oval Room, which is in the middle of the family's living quarters.

Obama and his wife Michelle were on a trip to California and Hawaii at the time of the shooting. The president has since traveled on to Australia on a nine-day Asia-Pacific tour. The Obamas were in California without daughters Malia and Sasha, but the White House had no immediate comment on the shooting or who may have been home at the time.

  1. «
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. »

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus