Police arrest White House shooting suspect

2 bullets found after striking president's residence,state troopers nab 21-year-old man in Pennsylvania.

November 17, 2011 11:18
2 minute read.
Crew atop White House where bullets struck

Crew atop White House where bullets hit 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)


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WASHINGTON - Police arrested a 21-year-old man on Wednesday suspected of shooting at the White House last week, after federal agents found two bullets that had hit the mansion, including one that struck a window.

Oscar Ortega-Hernandez was picked up by Pennsylvania state troopers at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania, the US Secret Service said, some four hours drive time from Washington.

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No one was hurt in the Friday night shooting and US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle were out of town at the time.

The Secret Service said the bullet that broke a window was stopped by protective ballistic glass behind the executive mansion's historic external glass, said Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan. The other round struck the exterior of the building.

The rounds were found on the south side of the White House, where the master bedroom and the Lincoln bedroom of the presidential private residence are located, as well as other bedrooms and spaces that can be used by the first family.

Secret Service officers had heard shots fired on the street, between 700 and 800 meters south of the president's residence.

Two cars were seen racing away from that scene. One of those vehicles was later found abandoned nearby with a semi-automatic rifle on board.

At the time of the incident, the president was in California before heading to Hawaii.

The shooting was being investigated by the Secret Service as well as Washington and US Parks police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Ortega-Hernandez had a criminal background, including several drug and alcohol-related charges, as well resisting arrest and assault on a police officer, said US Parks Police spokesman Sergeant David Schlosser.

Friday's shooting took place on Constitution Avenue, a busy public street adjacent to the National Mall. Uniformed Secret Service officers guard the area, which is also heavily patrolled by Washington and US Parks police.

White House security was beefed up after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when Pennsylvania Avenue along the north of the grounds was closed to traffic.

But the mansion, which is open to tours, remains close to public spaces to allow the city's many visitors a good view. This proximity has been exploited in the past.

In 2001, a former accountant who worked for the Inland Revenue Service fired shots outside the White House.

In 1994, a man was killed when he flew a small plane into the White House compound and hit a tree. In a third incident, a man opened fire from the north side of the grounds, firing more than 20 rounds from an assault rifle.

The shooter, Francisco Martin Duran, was sentenced to 40 years for trying to assassinate the US president and is still in prison.

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