The man suspected of firing an assault rifle near the White House was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Pennsylvania, concluding a five-day manhunt, authorities said.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was captured at about 12:35 p.m. at a Hampton Inn hotel near Indiana, Pa. after a hotel clerk alerted authorities, Lt. Brad Shields of the Pennsylvania State Police said.
“They immediately recognized him when he came onto the property,” Lt. Shields said. “He did not even get to check into the hotel today. He was in the lobby when we got there.”
The arrest was made after authorities discovered Tuesday that two bullets had struck the White House, apparently from the gunfire Friday night, Secret Service officials said. However, authorities have not conclusively linked the gunfire with the discovery of the bullets.
Secret Service agents visited the rural Pennsylvania hotel, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, earlier this week looking for Mr. Ortega-Hernandez after learning he had stayed there before, Lt. Shields said.
He will make his first court appearance Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh, according to the staff of U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy.
State troopers were able to take Mr. Ortega-Hernandez into custody without incident. However, as a precaution they brought in bomb-sniffing dogs to inspect a duffel bag that he had with him, Lt. Shields said. Nothing criminal in nature was found in the bag, and state police turned over the suspect to federal authorities.
Mr. Ortega-Hernandez, who reportedly is obsessed with President Obama, was identified as a suspect over the weekend. He is believed to have fired the shots from a vehicle at about 9:30 p.m. Friday at 16th Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest. He sped several blocks west and abandon the vehicle near the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, then fled on foot, based on witness accounts. Among the first pieces of evidence were items inside the abandoned vehicle linking it to Mr. Ortega-Hernandez. An assault rifle also found nearby, and U.S. Park Police issued a warrant for Mr. Ortega-Hernandez’s arrest Saturday on gun-related charges.
Previously, authorities said the White House did not appear to have been a target in the gunfire.
One of the bullets cracked a window on the floor where President Obama and his family live. The bullet was stopped by ballistic glass behind the exterior glass of the executive mansion. Officials would say only that the other bullet entered “the exterior of the White House.”
Mr. Obama and the first lady had traveled without daughters Malia and Sasha on Friday to San Diego en route to Hawaii for a summit before heading on to Australia. The White House had no immediate comment on the shooting report or arrest nor on who may have been home at the time.
Mr. Ortega-Hernandez is from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and was reported missing Oct. 31 by his family. On Friday morning, he was stopped by Arlington police after officers were called for a report of a suspicious person. Police took photos of him but had no reason to arrest him, Arlington police Lt. Joe Kantor said.
In their efforts, police even searched the Occupy D.C. encampment in McPherson Square.
On Monday, officers rifled through tents and tarps but “did not say a single world to anybody,” protester Barry Knight, 43, said.
In the last shooting at the White House, a Colorado man sprayed the mansion with at least 27 semiautomatic rifle bullets in 1994. Francisco Martin Duran was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison for the shooting.
• Meredith Somers contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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