Idaho Man Who Fired at White House in 2011 Sentenced to 25 Years

The bullet hole in the window on the residential level on the south side of the White House. (Via AFP/Getty Images)
The bullet hole in the window on the residential level on the south side of the White House. (Via AFP/Getty Images)
Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:33pm

The man who shot a semi-automatic assault rifle at the White House in 2011 was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday for terrorism and related weapons offenses.  

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, drove across the country for the Nov. 11, 2011 attack. He fired at least eight rounds from an AK-47-style rifle pointed out the passenger-side, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.  

Disturbing details released Monday afternoon show Ortega-Hernandez had a troubled history and warned friends in Idaho on numerous occasions that he was “on a mission from God to take out” President Barack Obama. “He was motivated by hatred for the President and the desire to start a revolution against the federal government,” U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement. “We are very fortunate that his bullets narrowly missed the U.S. Secret Service officers guarding the White House that night.”  

Ortega-Hernandez purchased the Romanian Cugir SA used in the assault on March 19, 2011, from an individual in Idaho for $550. He also purchased more than 1,200 rounds of ammunition and a scope kit. He spent six months practicing firing the weapon at a desolate crater located on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management outside of Idaho Falls.  

For months, he had been sharing theories about how the federal government used Global Positioning System chips, fluoride, and aspartame to control Americans. He also criticized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming that the United States was “bullying” other countries to obtain oil, and compared Obama to “the anti-Christ.”  

On Oct. 23, 2011, Ortega-Hernandez made two short videos in which he praised Osama bin Laden for having the courage to stand up to the United States, and called for a revolution against the federal government. He described himself as a “cold-hearted warrior of God” and declared, “it’s time for Armageddon.”  

Ortega-Hernandez then traveled more than 2,000 miles to Washington, D.C., armed with his rifle and ammunition.  

On Nov. 11, 2011, at approximately 8:50 p.m., he drove southbound on 15th Street Northwest and made a right turn onto Constitution Avenue Northwest. Shortly after passing the entrance to the Ellipse, he stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road. With the passenger-side window of his car lowered, he pointed his assault rifle out the passenger-side window of the car and aimed directly at the White House. He fired at least eight rounds at the White House.  

Ortega-Hernandez then fled the scene, and crashed in front of the United States Institute of Peace. He fled the scene on foot. Law enforcement subsequently launched a massive search and arrested him five days later in Indiana, Pa.  

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

“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,” Machen said.