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Idaho man sentenced to 25 years in prison for firing assault rifle at White House

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Monday, March 31, 2014, at 5:11 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at 5:28 a.m.

— An Idaho man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday after driving across the country to launch a one-man attack on the White House using a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, pleaded guilty last year to terrorism and weapons offenses after firing at least eight rounds at the White House in November 2011.

Ortega Hernandez had told friends “he was on a mission from God to take out Obama,” authorities said.

“He was motivated by hatred for the President and the desire to start a revolution against the federal government,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. “We are very fortunate that his bullets narrowly missed the U.S. Secret Service officers guarding the White House that night. This 25-year prison sentence demonstrates that anyone who comes to the nation’s capital planning to use violence should expect to spend decades behind bars.”

In addition to the prison term, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the District of Columbia ordered Ortega-Hernandez to pay $94,000 in restitution for damage caused to the White House.

A critic of the wars in Afghanistan and Iran, Ortega-Hernandez was outspoken about his contempt for the federal government, and his belief that the US bullied other countries, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Department said evidence shows that Ortega-Hernandez told friends and associates the government is trying to control Americans through Global Positioning System chips, fluoride, and aspartame, an artificial sweetner.

About a month before the shootings, the department said, Ortega-Hernandez made two short videos at a friend’s house, praising Osama bin Laden “for having the courage to stand up to the United States,” and describing himself as a “cold-hearted warrior of God.”

He then drove more than 2,000 miles from Idaho Falls to Washington, DC, armed with a Romanian Cugir SA semi-automatic assault rifle he had purchased for $550, and more than 180 rounds of ammunition.

At about 8:50 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2011, Ortega-Hernandez fired the rifle out the passenger-side window of his car and fled.

One of the bullets struck a balcony directly about a Secret Service officer. Another one impacted less than 20 feet from two other officers.

The FBI determined that the two bullets matched Ortega-Hernandez’s assault rifle.

He was arrested on Nov. 16, 2011 in Indiana, Pa.

Email: lwise@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @lindsaywise.

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