An Idaho man charged with firing two shots at the White House last week has been charged with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama or his staff.
Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, will be taken back from a federal court in Pittsburgh to face the charges in Washington, D.C.
Ortega will remain in federal custody at least until a magistrate in Washington can determine if he should remain jailed until his trial on the charge, which carries up to life in prison.
The 21-year-old Ortega said only, "Yes, ma'am" when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charges. He sat quietly as the hearing began, his hands free but his feet shackled.
Authorities said a man clad in black who was obsessed with President Barack Obama pulled his car within view of the White House on Friday night and fired shots from an assault rifle, cracking a window of the first family's living quarters while the president was away.
Soon after, U.S. Park Police found an abandoned vehicle, with an assault rifle inside it, near a bridge leading out of the nation's capital to Virginia. The car led investigators to Ortega.
He was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a hotel near Indiana, Pa., about 55 miles east of Pittsburgh, after a desk clerk recognized his picture. He had been reported missing Oct. 31 by his family.
Investigators and the man's father said Ortega was obsessed with President Barack Obama and the date 11/11/11. Authorities are investigating the man's mental health and say there are indications he believed attacking the White House was part of a personal mission from God, according to two different law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press. There are also indications the man had become obsessed with Obama.
“He hates the president, he hates Washington, he hates society,” one official told The Washington Post.
The man's father, Ramiro, who lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho, told NBC's Telemundo Spanish News Network that his son was obsessed with the date 11/11/11. Ortega believed the world might end on that day, the father said.
The shots were fired at the building Friday night about 9:30 p.m. Agents discovered Tuesday 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.
An official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Ortega used a knockoff of an AK-47. Late Wednesday, however, authorities had not conclusively linked his gun to the rounds found at the White House.
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. The Obamas were in California without daughters Malia and Sasha, but the White House had no immediate comment on the shooting or who may have been home at the time.
Investigators believe Ortega fired the rifle from his vehicle, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation.
Soon after, U.S. Park Police found an abandoned vehicle, the assault rifle inside it, near a bridge leading out of the nation's capital to Virginia. The car led investigators to Ortega, and they obtained a warrant for his arrest Sunday, officials said.
This is not the first time the White House has come under attack.
In the last 40 years, the landmark has faced threats ranging from a stolen helicopter that landed on the grounds in 1974 to a man who wielded a sawed-off shotgun on a sidewalk outside in 1984.
In 1994 alone, there were five threats including a plane crash on the lawn and a suspected drive-by shooting. Another man fired at least 29 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon, with 11 striking the White House.