An Idaho man accused of trying to assassinate President Barack Obama by firing a semi-automatic assault rifle at the White House almost two years ago pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington to discharging a firearm during a crime and jeopardizing lives.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 22, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, faces as long as 27 1/2 years in prison, based on sentencing guidelines agreed to by prosecutors and the defense. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington set a Jan. 10 sentencing date.
Ortega-Hernandez shot at the White House through the passenger window of his 1998 Honda Accord from Constitution Avenue on Nov. 11, 2011, according to federal prosecutors.
The attack “was the culmination of several months during which the defendant fulminated against the president, whom he perceived to be the Antichrist, made threats against him and prepared to take violent action against him,” federal prosecutors said in court papers.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation found bullet marks on the south side of the White House in the area of the first family’s living quarters and linked bullets found nearby to Ortega-Hernandez’s weapon, a Romanian Cugir AK-47, according to statements made today in court.
Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama weren’t in the White House at the time of the shooting, prosecutors said in court papers. Two other members of the first family were in the building, according to Collyer.
Ortega-Hernandez “expressed anger towards the government regarding the continued criminalization of marijuana,” prosecutors said in April.
The shooting incident occurred more than 18 months before the Obama administration eased its opposition to marijuana by announcing that it wouldn’t challenge laws in Colorado and Washington that legalized the recreational use of the drug.
Ortega-Hernandez has been in custody since he was arrested on Nov. 16, 2011, in Indiana, Pennsylvania.
He previously pleaded not guilty to 19 criminal charges including attempting to assassinate the president and assaulting federal officers with a deadly weapon and faced a possible sentence of life in prison. A trial had been set for Sept. 30.
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