The Secret Service says a man dressed all in black who was obsessed with President Barack Obama pulled his car within view of the White House and fired shots from a semi-automatic rifle, cracking a window of the first family’s living quarters while the president was away.
Twenty-one-year-old Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez made his first court appearance in front of a federal judge in Pittsburgh Thursday, one day after he was collared hiding in a western Pennsylvania hotel. Ortega-Hernandez's sat without speaking at the hearing. His hands were free, but his feet were shackled. The Washington Post
reports that he said only,
When asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charges.
If convicted, he could face life in prison. He will remain in federal custody until a judge in Washington determines whether he should stay in jail until his trial on the charges.
The Secret Service reports that one bullet hit an upstairs window on the south side of the White House, which is the residential portion, but it was stopped by bulletproof glass.
reports that authorities are investigating Ortega-Hernandez's mental health and so far, there are indications that he believed attacking the White House was a personal mission from God. It's also been determined that the suspect was obsessed with Obama and the White House.
Police arrested Ortega-Hernandez after authorities found an abandoned car with an AK-47 rifle in it near the White House. Obama himself was in California at the time of the shooting before traveling to Hawaii and Australia, but his aides and family were in the house at the time.
Ortega-Hernandez was stopped by police after they were called on a report of a suspicious person. Police took his picture, but at first found no reason to arrest him. He'd been reported missing on Oct. 31 by his own family. Ortega-Hernandez also has an arrest record in three states but has not been linked to any radical organizations.
The last White House shooting occurred in 1994, when Francisco Martin Duran began firing a semiautomatic rifle from Pennsylvania Avenue.
Bystanders subdued Duran after he fired at least two dozen rounds. Duran is now serving a 40-year prison sentence for that incident.
The AP's Vice President for Global Security Danny Spriggs says the likelihood of an accurate shot on the White House is 'significantly less than 100%.'