Man Who Shot at White House Sentenced to 25 Years

Oscar Ortega-Hernandez believed Obama 'was the head of a government that was oppressing its citizens.'

This artist rendering shows Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, center, before Magistrate Judge Alan Kay, left, on Nov. 21, 2011.

This artist rendering shows Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, center, before Magistrate Judge Alan Kay, left, on Nov. 21, 2011. 

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Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday for shooting at the White House on Nov. 11, 2011.

Ortega-Hernandez was originally charged with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama, but that charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to terrorism and weapons offenses in September.

His intent "was to punish and kill the president, who he believed was the head of a government that was oppressing its citizens in various ways, such as by continuing to criminalize the use of marijuana,” according to court documents filed by prosecutors in April 2013.

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Ortega-Hernandez "expressed anger towards the government regarding the continued criminalization of marijuana,” which he told investigators makes people smarter, prosecutors said. At the time of the shooting federal law enforcement agents were raiding medical marijuana dispensaries that operated in accordance with state laws. 

The shooter, who defense attorneys said suffered from depression, stress and a mistaken belief the world was ending, left Idaho to kill Obama.


This Nov. 26, 2011, photo shows a bullet hole is visible on a White House window.
This Nov. 26, 2011, photo shows a bullet hole is visible on a White House window.


In a bizarre series of events, he fired several shots from a Romanian Cugir SA semi-automatic assault rifle at the White House from his 1998 Honda Accord before crashing the car nearby along Constitution Avenue. He fled into the night and was photographed days later aboard a freight train in West Virginia.

U.S. Secret Service and Park Police agents discovered the gun, nine spent shell casings and three loaded cartridge magazines in the abandoned car, which was registered to Ortega-Hernandez in Idaho.

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The president and first lady Michelle Obama were visiting Australia at the time of the shooting and nobody was injured.  Upon inspection days later, one bullet was found lodged in a White House window's protective glass covering and holes were found in the building's walls. 

Ortega-Hernandez was arrested in Pennsylvania on Nov. 16, 2011.

One Idaho resident who knew Ortega-Hernandez told investigators he referred to Obama as “the anti-Christ” and said he “needed to kill him,” according to an FBI affidavit. Another Idaho witness recalled him saying Obama was “the devil” and “needed to be taken care of.”