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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Long Stretch for Bizarre White House Shooting

WASHINGTON (CN) - An Idaho man who fired at least eight rounds at the White House in November 2011 will serve 25 years in prison, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, had pleaded guilty in September to one count of injury to a dwelling and placing lives in jeopardy within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, as well as one count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

The charges against the Idaho Falls man revealed that he had been spinning conspiracy theories about the U.S. government to his family and friends since 2010.

He allegedly said the government was trying to control Americans through Global Positioning System chips, fluoride and aspartame.

To Ortega-Hernandez, President Barack Obama was "the devil" and "the anti-Christ," according to a statement from the Justice Department. He allegedly often remarked that "he was on a mission from God to take out Obama."

The government's evidence about Ortega-Hernandez's activities in 2011 is recounted below.

After buying a Romanian Cugir SA semi-automatic assault rifle in Ohio for $550, Ortega-Hernandez purchased more than 1,200 rounds of ammunition for the AK-47-style weapon.

He then bought a scope kit online, had it installed on his gun and spent six months at target practice on federal land.

Before he left for Washington, D.C., Ortega-Hernandez made two short videos on Oct. 23 in which he praised the courage it took for Osama bin Laden to stand up to the United States.

Ortega-Hernandez called in the video for a revolution against the federal government. He described himself as a "cold-hearted warrior of God," and declared: "It's time for Armageddon."

The 2,000-mile drive brought Ortega-Hernandez to Obama's doorstep on the evening of Nov. 11, 2011.

After passing the entrance to the Ellipse, a nickname given to the park just south of the White House fence, Ortega-Hernandez stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road.

He pointed his assault rifle out the lowered passenger-side window of the car, aimed directly at the White House, fired at least eight rounds and fled.

"Moments later, he lost control of the vehicle and crashed near the ramp from Constitution Avenue to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge in front of the United States Institute of Peace," according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen's office. "After efforts to restart the vehicle failed, Ortega-Hernandez fled from the vehicle on foot."

The shooting left eight bullet marks on the south side of the White House on or above the second story. One bullet was found in a window frame on the Truman Balcony. A sill on the balcony had a bullet jacket. Another was found on the ground east of the South entrance.

One of the bullets Ortega-Hernandez fired struck the roof of the White House within 20 feet of where two U.S. Secret Service officers were stationed. There had also been an officer stationed below the Truman balcony who took cover behind a stairwell to fire back at the shooter.

Witnesses spotted Ortega-Hernandez at some unusual locations in the following days.

First he was photographed riding on a cargo train near Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., headed to D.C. The next day, identified outside a car wash in South Greensburg, Pa., and asking for a ride.

A surveillance camera taped Ortega-Hernandez buying items at a store in Greensburg, Pa., where he was dropped off.

Hotel staff in Indiana, Pa., soon notified the Secret Service that Ortega-Hernandez was a guest there.

The October plea allowed Ortega-Hernandez to skate on another 17 counts, but it left him open to a sentencing enhancement in admitting to a terrorist act.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer sentenced Ortega-Hernandez to 25 years Monday, and she set restitution at $94,000.

Ortega-Hernandez also faces five years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.

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