WASHINGTON (AP) – An Idaho man who pleaded guilty to firing an assault rifle at the White House in 2011, striking the executive mansion more than half a dozen times, was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors initially charged Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama but agreed to drop the charge as part of a plea deal last year. Ortega-Hernandez instead pleaded guilty to two charges, including damaging the home.
Obama and the first lady were not home at the time of the shooting, and no one was injured. But prosecutors said Ortega-Hernandez jeopardized the lives of two other members of the Obama family who were at the home as well as White House employees and staff, Secret Service agents and bystanders. Prosecutors said the bullets from his gun did nearly $100,000 damage to the home. They asked that Ortega-Hernandez, who referred to Obama as "the anti-Christ," spend 27 ½ years in prison.
Ortega-Hernandez's lawyers argued that he was suffering from extreme depression and mental stress at the time of the shooting and was under the misguided belief that the end of the world was coming. Ortega-Hernandez's lawyers said his motivation in firing a gun at the White House was to "call attention to what he believed was the coming apocalypse." They said he decided against shooting at the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty because they would not attract enough attention. They had asked for a 10-year sentence.
Ortega-Hernandez, who is from Idaho Falls, Idaho, acknowledged as part of the plea deal in the case that on the night of Nov. 11, 2012, he drove his car on Constitution Avenue, south of the White House, stopped and fired at least eight rounds from his semi-automatic assault rifle at the second and third stories of the White House, the residential section of the home. He fled but was captured five days later in Pennsylvania.
He pleaded guilty to injury to a dwelling and placing lives in jeopardy as well as discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.