Oscar Ortega-Hernandez appears in D.C. court
(AP, ABC7) - A man who shot an assault rifle at the White House could spend many years in prison or a mental hospital if convicted.
Accused Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, appeared in federal court in D.C. for the first time Monday after authorities took him into custody last week.
Ortega-Hernandez, shackled, with long black hair and thick beard, said few words during the hearing. Asked if he had money for his own attorney, he said, "at the moment, I do not." He was ordered held without bond.
The 21-year-old of Idaho Falls, Idaho, is accused of firing from a car at the White House on Nov. 11. He was arrested last week in Pennsylvania after a four-day search.
Ortega-Hernandez shook his head when the judge read the charge against him, which carries a possible sentence of up to life in prison. He was appointed a public defender and ordered held without bond. A judge set the next court hearing for Nov. 28, following a psychological evaluation.
Prosecutors said Ortega-Hernandez traveled 2,200 miles from Idaho with a plan to kill President Barack Obama. Court documents filed last week allege he told acquaintances that the president was the Antichrist and said he "needed to kill him."
Agents discovered last week that one of the two bullets hit the exterior and a second cracked a window on the second floor residential level, just behind the rounded portico visible from the south side of the White House.
That bullet was stopped by protective ballistic glass. The window that was hit is in front of the so-called Yellow Oval Room, which is in the middle of the family's living quarters.
Obama and his wife Michelle were on a trip to California and Hawaii at the time of the shooting. The president has since traveled on to Australia on a nine-day Asia-Pacific tour.
"It's basically a drive-by shooting at the White House," said Eric A. Dubelier, a Washington lawyer who helped prosecute a separate case where a man was charged with attempting to assassinate the President. Dubelier added that it could be hard to convince a jury that Ortega intended to kill Obama.
In a video he taped in September, Ortega-Hernandez said he considers himself a modern-day Jesus Christ.
His court-appointed attorney said there are discrepancies in the eyewitness statements, including on the color of the car involved.