Idaho man accused of assassination attempt on President Obama

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BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho man accused of firing an assault rifle at the White House believed he was Jesus and thought President Barack Obama was the Antichrist, according to court documents and those who knew him. At one point, he even suggested to an acquaintance the president was planning to implant computer tracking chips into children.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was charged Thursday with attempting to assassinate the president or his staff. He is accused of firing nine rounds at the White House last Friday night — one of them cracking a window of the first family’s living quarters — when Obama and the first lady were away. If convicted, Ortega faces up to life in prison.

Ortega was arrested Wednesday at a western Pennsylvania hotel when a desk clerk there recognized him and called police.

Ortega’s public defender, Christopher Brown, declined comment after his first court hearing in Pennsylvania. Ortega’s mother has said he has no history of mental illness, though when authorities were looking for him, they reported he had “mental health issues.”

In Idaho Falls, where Ortega is from, a computer consultant told The Associated Press that the two met July 8 after Ortega asked for help editing a 30-minute infomercial. Monte McCall said that during the meeting at Ortega’s family’s Mexican restaurant, Ortega pulled out worn sheets of yellow paper with handwritten notes and started to talk about his predictions that the world would end in 2012.

“He said, ‘Well, you know the president is getting ready to make an announcement that they’re going to put GPS chips in all the children, so they’re safe,’” McCall said. “... And then he said, ‘That’s just what the Antichrist is going to do to mark everybody.’”

At his first appearance in court in Pennsylvania, Ortega sat quietly, his hands free but his feet shackled. He said only, “Yes, ma’am” when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charge.

According to a court document released after the hearing, authorities recovered nine spent shell casings from Ortega’s car, which was found abandoned near the White House shortly after the shooting. An assault rifle with a scope was found inside.

A person who knows him subsequently told investigators that he had become increasingly agitated with the federal government and was convinced it was conspiring against him, the document said. 

Published on Friday, November 18, 2011 as: Idaho man attempts Obama assassination