White House shooting suspect to face attempted assassination charge

CNN on November 17, 2011 released the following:

“From Carol Cratty, CNN

Pittsburgh (CNN) — An Idaho man arrested in connection with a White House shooting incident will be charged with trying to assassinate President Barack Obama or a member of his staff, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

The announcement came at the first federal court hearing for Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, who allegedly was involved in a shooting last Friday that may be responsible for two bullets found at the White House.

One bullet hit a window and was stopped by bulletproof glass, and another was found on the White House exterior, the Secret Service said. Both bullets were found Tuesday.

Ortega-Hernandez will be charged with attempted assassination, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen. The charge carries a possible maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

At the brief hearing, Ortega-Hernandez spoke once, answering “yes, ma’am” when Magistrate Cynthia Eddy asked if he understood what his federal defender had said on his behalf.

Eddy agreed with a prosecution request for Ortega-Hernandez to remain in custody. Ortega-Hernandez agreed to be extradited to Washington, D.C., and the federal defender, Christopher Brown, said the defendant reserved his right for a detention and preliminary hearing after the transfer.

The government agreed not to formally indict Ortega-Hernandez until after his transfer, Brown said. It was not immediately clear when the transfer would occur, but it was expected in coming days.

With long, tangled hair and a beard, Ortega-Hernandez wore a white jumpsuit and was handcuffed with legs chained when entering the courtroom guarded by U.S. marshals.

Guards removed the handcuffs for the hearing, but the leg chains remained on as he sat down.

Lt. Brad Shields of the Pennsylvania State Police said Ortega-Hernandez, originally from Idaho, was arrested Wednesday in western Pennsylvania under a U.S. Park Police warrant issued Sunday in Washington “based on a shooting that occurred at the White House on November 11.”

According to Shields, a tip came in Wednesday that the man sought by federal authorities in the Washington shooting was at a Hampton Inn in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Ortega-Hernandez had stayed at the hotel with another person for a few days before the Friday shooting incident, Shields said.

When Ortega-Hernandez returned to the hotel on Wednesday, staff members recognized him from a photo provided by authorities and notified police, Shields said.

Ortega-Hernandez was arrested without any resistance in the hotel lobby, asking why he was being detained, Shields said. A bag of his was checked by sniffer dogs, but no weapons were found, according to Shields.

The suspect apparently returned to the hotel to locate what Shields called “his friend,” and Shields said the suspect’s companion was not from the area. He provided no further details of the companion’s identity or whereabouts.

In Idaho Falls, Idaho, police spokeswoman Joelyn Hansen said the man — identified there as Oscar Ramiro Ortega — was reported missing October 31. Hansen said Ortega is the same man that the Secret Service is calling Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez.

The bullets were found on the south side of the White House, a Secret Service official not authorized to speak on the record told CNN.

“A round was stopped by ballistic glass behind the historic exterior glass,” a Secret Service statement said. “One additional round has been found on the exterior of the White House. This damage has not been conclusively connected to Friday’s incident, and an assessment of the exterior of the White House is ongoing,”.

Last Friday night around 9 p.m., U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service investigated after hearing shots fired about 700 to 800 yards from the White House, the Secret Service statement said.

Within five minutes, officers located a vehicle in the 2300 block of Constitution Avenue, according to the statement.

“Evidence in the vehicle led to U.S. Park Police obtaining an arrest warrant for Oscar Ortega -Hernandez,” described as a 21-year-old Hispanic male, 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds, the Secret Service statement said.

A rifle was found in the car, and federal authorities were testing it to see if it fired the bullets found at the White House.

A law enforcement official told CNN on Thursday than a trace of the weapon did not show Ortega-Hernandez as the purchaser.

The official, who was not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation, provided no further information on details of the weapon’s purchase.

The Secret Service interviewed people who know Ortega-Hernandez, and determined he had a “direction of interest toward the president and the White House” — a term that does not suggest a direct specific threat.

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Metropolitan Police Department all took part in the search for Ortega-Hernandez, officials said.

“There’s always an outer perimeter and this was on the very outer perimeter of our security,” the Secret Service official said. “The gun and car were found within several minutes. We have a lot of security — a lot of layered security down there, and the security worked.”

A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said when the shots were heard Friday night, there were reports of tires screeching and cars racing.”


Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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