Man charged with trying to assassinate Obama

21-year-old man accused of firing shots at White House, trying to assassinate US president; Ortega-Hernandez appears in Pittsburgh court.

By REUTERS
November 17, 2011 23:16
2 minute read.
Oscar Ortega-Hernandez

Oscar Ortega-Hernandez. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A 21-year-old man accused of firing shots at the White House last week was charged on Thursday with trying to assassinate US President Barack Obama, though the president was out of town at the time.

Oscar Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho appeared in a Pittsburgh court after his arrest on Wednesday at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania, according to the US Secret Service.

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No one was hurt in the shooting on Friday night. Obama and wife, Michelle, were not in Washington at the time.

The Secret Service said one bullet broke a White House window but was stopped by protective ballistic glass, and the other round struck the exterior of the building.

Two cars were seen racing from the scene. One vehicle was found abandoned nearby with a semi-automatic rifle on board, authorities said.

Ortega-Hernandez was charged with attempted assassination of the president, Assistant US Attorney James Kitchen said at the court hearing.

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If convicted, Ortega-Hernandez faces up to life in prison. A magistrate judge in Pittsburgh ordered him detailed pending transfer to Washington.

Late Friday evening authorities responded to reports of gunfire south of the White House complex and witnesses reported a dark colored sedan speeding by.

Authorities found in the abandoned car a semi-automatic assault rifle with a large scope, as well as three loaded magazines of ammunition and nine spent shell casing, according to court papers.

FBI investigators who scoured the White House grounds on Wednesday found several bullet impacts on the south side of the executive mansion on the second story or above. The president's family quarters are on those upper floors.

An FBI affidavit said a witness interviewed in Idaho who "knows Ortega-Hernandez well" said he had become increasingly agitated against the government.

The witness told authorities that Ortega-Hernandez "wanted to 'hurt' President Obama and referred to him as 'the anti-Christ,'" according to the affidavit.

Another witness interviewed in Idaho told authorities that Ortega-Hernandez "was very specific that President Obama was the problem with the government" and that he was "the devil," according to the court papers.

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