White House Shooter, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, Occupy DC Protester
November 16th, 2011
Mark Segraves, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - The Secret Service says the man wanted in connection with Friday's shooting near the White House has been taken into custody.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was arrested at the Hampton Inn in Indiana, Pa. at about 12:35 p.m. Wednesday and is in the custody of Pennsylvania State Police.
Working on information that Ortega-Hernandez had visited hotels in Indiana, Pa. in the past, Secret Service agents in the Pittsburgh Field Office distributed his picture to area hotels. An employee at the Hampton Inn recognized him early Wednesday morning and called state police. Ortega-Hernandez was captured without incident, a law enforcement source in Pennsylvania says.
When reached by phone, a hotel employee said he had been instructed by police not to speak to reporters. A bomb squad has since been called to search the hotel, according to reports from the scene.
Ortega-Hernandez is expected to appear in a Pennsylvania court Thursday for an extradition hearing, after which he will be returned to D.C. He was sought by federal authorities after reports of gunfire near the White House on Friday night while President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were away on a trip to California and Hawaii. Witnesses heard shots and saw two speeding vehicles in the area. An assault rifle was also recovered.
No one was injured in the shooting, but officials are investigating two bullets that hit the White House, one of them apparently cracking a window on the residential level where the Obama family lives.
The Secret Service said it discovered the bullet holes Tuesday and the bullet that hit the window was stopped by ballistic glass, but that it was not certain the cartridges were connected to Friday's shooting.
On Wednesday, officials could be seen taking photographs of a window on the south face of the executive mansion. The window they were inspecting is in front of the so-called Yellow Oval Room, according to the White House website. The room is in the middle of the family's living quarters on the floor that includes the president's bedroom and the Lincoln Bedroom.
Obama and the first lady had traveled without daughters Malia and Sasha on Friday to San Diego en route to Hawaii for a summit. The White House had no immediate comment on the shooting report or arrest nor who may have been in the building at the time.
The exact location of the second bullet was not disclosed by the Secret Service.
"An assessment of the exterior of the White House is ongoing," Secret Service spokesperson Ed Donovan says in a statement emailed to reporters.
"A round was stopped by ballistic glass behind the historic exterior glass," he says. "One additional round has been found on the exterior of the White House. This damage has not been conclusively connected to Friday's incident."
U.S. Park Police identified the suspect in Friday's shooting as Oscar Ramiro Ortega, 21, and obtained a warrant charging him with carrying a dangerous weapon, a felony. A Secret Service spokesman identified the suspect as Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, saying that is the name on his driver's license.
After the Friday gunfire was reported, police said they found an abandoned car Friday night near the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that crosses the Potomac River to Virginia.
U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said items found in the vehicle connected it to the suspect, who hasn't been linked to any radical organizations but does have an arrest record in three states.
Federal officials also set up a joint task force to investigate last week's shooting. Lindsay Godwin, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington Field Office, tells WTOP the task force includes the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Park Police and Secret Service.
Ortega-Hernandez was believed to be living in the Washington area with ties to Idaho. Idaho Falls Police Department spokeswoman Joelyn Hansen says Ortega-Hernandez's family reported him missing Oct. 31.
Hansen says they received word Friday that Ortega-Hernandez was well when police in Arlington stopped him after a citizen reported someone "circling the area." Arlington Police Lt. Joe Kantor said when police stopped the suspect, he was on foot and had an out of state address. Police took photos of him but had no cause to detain him, Kantor said.
Police agencies were told to consider Ortega-Hernandez dangerous and unstable.
In the last shooting at the White House, a Colorado man sprayed the mansion with at least 27 semiautomatic rifle bullets from Pennsylvania Avenue in an attempt to assassinate President Bill Clinton in October 1994. Bystanders subdued him, and no one was injured. Francisco Martin Duran was later convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison for that shooting.