Secret Service stumped by shooting at White House
Hours after revealing that they had found two bullets in the
grounds of the White House, law enforcement agents in Washington
last said that a man whom they believe may have fired them during
an incident close to the mansion on Friday had been taken into
custody in a small town in western Pennsylvania.
The arrest of Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, a 21-year-old from Idaho, gave the Secret Service and other federal agencies charged with protecting President Barack Obama and his family a first break in an otherwise awkward case that risked making them look slightly less than competent.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Secret Service, which likes to project an image of deadly efficiency, with its dark-suited men sporting shades and wiggly earpieces, admitted that one of the two bullets found on Tuesday had penetrated the outer pane of one of the windows on the south side of the iconic residence. A second layer of ballistic glass had stopped it travelling further. The second bullet was found in the grounds. In a statement, the Secret Service said it still could not say for certain that the bullets had been there since the incident of Friday evening, although it seemed likely.
"The damage has not been conclusively connected to Friday's incident and an assessment of the exterior of the White House is ongoing," it said. The Friday mêlée which shut down streets all around the presidential home was embarrassing enough before the bullets showed up. Witnesses heard shots close by as well the squealing of tyres of perhaps two vehicles. Soon after, officers discovered a crashed car on nearby Constitution Avenue. It was registered to Mr Ortega. He was not inside, but what they did find was an automatic rifle and shell casings.
Sources close to the investigation said there was evidence that Mr Ortega may in some way have been fixated with President Obama and had been loitering near the White House for days prior to Friday evening's gunfire and may have hidden himself among Occupy DC protesters. Earlier on Friday he was held briefly and photographed by police in nearby Arlington County, Virginia, after displaying so-called "suspicious behaviour".
Mr Obama and the First Lady knew nothing of Friday's incident since they were out of town on a visit to California.
Since then they have played hosts at an Asia-Pacific summit in Honolulu and yesterday were on a 27-hour visit to Australia.
The shootings seemingly happened about 800 yards to the south of the residence. No one was hurt. Secret Service officials have protested that the incident took place on the very edge of the zone of protection they throw around the White House. Yet, questions are sure to be asked if it is confirmed that the bullets on the grounds were fired by Mr Ortega from that distance. Others will want to know how it was that it was another four days before anyone noticed them.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...