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Posted at 02:22 PM ET, 11/16/2011

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez arrested after shots fired near White House


Oscar Ortega

A 21-year-old man suspected of firing rifle shots near the White House last week was arrested in Pennsylvania as authorities continued investigating a bullet hole discovered in a window at the executive mansion, the Secret Service said.

The suspect, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, who has been the focus of a law enforcement search since the gunfire Friday evening, had professed hatred for Washington and the president. He was arrested shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after Pennsylvania State Police found him at a hotel near Indiana, Pa., about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, the Secret Service said.

Ortega-Hernandez has a record of arrests for relatively minor offenses in Texas, Utah and Idaho, authorities said, but he has not been linked to any radical organizations.

In trying to determine why he traveled to the nation’s capital from the western part of the country, investigators also found no connection between him and the Occupy D.C. protest, according to three law enforcement officials familiar with the case.

One official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing, said Ortega-Hernandez’s alleged motive may have been anger. “He hates the president, he hates Washington, he hates society,” the official said.

The suspect was originally identified by U.S. Park Police as Oscar Ramiro Ortega, but the Secret Service later gave his surname as Ortega-Hernandez.

Police who arrested Ortega-Hernandez were acting on information obtained by the Secret Service’s Pittsburgh field office, the agency said.

U.S. Park Police last week obtained an arrest warrant charging Ortega-Hernandez with carrying a dangerous weapon, a felony.

Ortega-Hernandez allegedly fired shots with an assault rifle about 9:30 p.m. Friday while in a vehicle at 16th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, between the Ellipse and the Washington Monument, about 750 yards from the White House.

Minutes later, he allegedly abandoned the vehicle and rifle in the 2300 block of Constitution and fled on foot, police said.

President Obama was not in the mansion at the time of the incident.

For several days afterward, police said they had not found bullet-related damage to any structures in the area. On Tuesday morning, however, authorities discovered a bullet hole at the White House, according to the Secret Service.

“A round was stopped by ballistic glass behind the historic exterior glass” of a window at the mansion, the Secret Service said in a statement. “One additional round has been found on the exterior of the White House.”

The Secret Service said that the damage “has not been conclusively connected to Friday’s incident, and an assessment of the exterior of the White House is ongoing.”

[This post has been updated.]

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By  |  02:22 PM ET, 11/16/2011

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