WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday
found sufficient evidence that an Idaho man allegedly opened
fire on the White House on a late November evening in a bid to
assassinate President Barack Obama, ordering that he be held
pending an indictment and questioning whether he may have a
Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, 21, has been charged with trying to
kill the president when he allegedly opened fire on the
executive mansion with a Romanian-made semi-automatic weapon on
Nov. 11. Obama was in California at the time.
After a lengthy hearing going through the evidence in the
case, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola found that there was
probable cause that Ortega-Hernandez had committed the crime and
ordered him held pending a grand jury review.
Prosecutors have said that Ortega-Hernandez referred to
himself as a modern day Jesus Christ and was "chosen" to "take
care of" Obama, which led Facciola to question whether the
defendant had a "Messianic complex".
Ortega-Hernandez's vehicle was found several blocks from the
White House abandoned and with the AK-47-style firearm in the
front seat. Several bullets from the assault rifle hit the upper
floors of the White House mansion where Obama's and his family's
private quarters are located.
His defense attorney raised the possibility that the
shooting had nothing to do with the White House but rather a
dispute with someone in a yellow truck. They also said no one
had positively identified Ortega-Hernandez as the gunman.
He allegedly told authorities that he had been robbed of his
car earlier in the day and whoever did that was responsible for
the shooting, according to court papers.
Prosecutors showed photographs from surveillance video at a
Walmart store that they said was Ortega-Hernandez hours after
the apparent robbery took place, a bid to discredit his version
FBI agent Michael Pinto said during the hearing that 12
spent bullet shells were recovered in Ortega-Hernandez's car and
that no one else's fingerprints were found in the car. Two
bullets and a bullet jacket recovered from the White House were
matched to his rifle.
A doctor has determined that Ortega-Hernandez is competent
to stand trial despite concerns about his past statements. If
convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
(Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; editing by Anthony Boadle)
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