The Idaho man charged with attempting to assassinate President Obama by firing shots near the White House was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation and held without bond Monday in federal court in the District.
The orders by Magistrate Judge Alan Kay were part of defendant Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez’s first court appearance in the District since his arrest Wednesday in western Pennsylvania.
“He drove 2,200 miles into D.C., then proceeded to flee,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney George Varghese, who asked the U.S. District Court judge to hold the defendant without bond. Mr. Varghese also argued that Mr. Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was found only “after a multijurisdictional manhunt.”
Court documents say that on the night of Nov. 11, Mr. Ortega-Hernandez stopped his dark-colored 1998 Honda Accord along Constitution Avenue Northwest, behind the White House, and fired as many as eight shots from a Romanian-made semi-automatic rifle, hitting a window and at least one other part of the executive mansion. The weapon, ammunition and other evidence that led to Mr. Ortega-Hernandez’s capture and arrest were found in the Honda, abandoned just blocks away, according to court records.
The president and first lady where in San Diego at the time of the incident.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Monday. If found guilty, Mr. Ortega-Hernandez could be sentenced to life in prison.
Mr. Ortega-Hernandez said little during his hearing and responded only with “Yes, ma’am,” when asked whether he would tell the truth and if he needed a court-appointed attorney. He was dressed in a baggy white T-shirt and maroon pants. Mr. Ortega-Hernandez’s hair and beard remained uncut, so he looked the same as he did in a photograph released by police.
U.S. public defender David Bos told the judge that there was no probable cause against his client because of conflicting accounts from the few witnesses who said they saw or heard the shots fired.
“Today is Nov. 21,” Mr. Bos said. “That’s nine days for investigators to get some type of [suspect] identification and they’ve not done so,” Mr. Bos said.
He said the found bullet casings give no indication that the White House was targeted that night.
Mr. Ortega-Hernandez was found at a Hampton Inn hotel near Indiana, Pa., after a hotel clerk recognized him and called police.
Secret Service agents stopped at the hotel, roughly 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, earlier in the week after learning that Mr. Ortega-Hernandez had stayed there before.
According to court documents, an acquaintance of Mr. Ortega-Hernandez, an Idaho Falls, Idaho, resident, said he had “increasingly become more agitated against the federal government” and wanted to “hurt” Mr. Obama, whom he called “the anti-Christ.”