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White House shooting suspect arrested

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, of Idaho is arrested in Pennsylvania. He's suspected of firing two bullets found at the White House, one of which cracked a window on the residential level.

November 16, 2011|By Alexa Vaughn, Washington Bureau
  • Workers inspect the south side of the White House after bullets were found to have been fired on the building.
Workers inspect the south side of the White House after bullets were found… (Shawn Thew, EPA )

Reporting from Washington — The Secret Service said a suspect potentially tied to a shooting incident near the White House on Friday has been arrested in Pennsylvania.

Officials with the agency said they were not yet sure whether Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, fired the bullets that were found at the White House on Tuesday.

But whoever did shoot at the presidential mansion hit a ballistic glass window on the residential level hard enough to crack it and struck another spot on the exterior on the south side, which includes the Oval Office. The Secret Service would not elaborate.

President Obama and his family were not at the White House during the incident.

The timing, source and motivation for the shooting are still under investigation.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots about 700 yards south of the White House, in the 1600 block of Constitution Avenue, about 9:30 p.m. Friday. The Secret Service said that within five minutes of the report, officers found a vehicle with an assault rifle in it a few blocks away near the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which leads to Arlington, Va.

A police car and helicopter search for the suspect then ensued. He was arrested at a hotel in Indiana, Pa., by Pennsylvania state troopers.

Arlington County police said Ortega-Hernandez had been stopped Friday morning in north Arlington after a citizen called in a report of a suspicious person. When police stopped Ortega-Hernandez, he was on foot and provided an out-of-state address, and police had no cause to detain him.

Ortega-Hernandez has several tattoos: three dots on his right hand, "Ortega" on his upper back, and the word "Israel" on the left side of his neck, according to police photos. In a picture released by the U.S. Park Police, he has a thick beard and is wearing a blue knit cap and a jacket covered with black and white "LA" logos.

Ortega-Hernandez is from Idaho Falls, Idaho, where his family reported him missing Oct. 31, according to Joelyn Hansen, a spokeswoman for that city's Police Department. Ortega-Hernandez has received 18 citations in Idaho related to theft, drug paraphernalia possession, domestic abuse, underage drinking, driving violations and, most recently, failure to affix a tag to his dog's collar, according to the state of Idaho's online citation database. He has a criminal record in three states, according to Hansen.

No bullets or bullet holes were found at the White House on Friday night.

A spokesman for the Secret Service, Edwin Donovan, declined to answer additional questions about how long it took security personnel to discover the White House had been fired on.

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