WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- An Idaho man who took several potshots at the White House nearly two years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal terrorism and weapons charges.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 22, Idaho Falls, Idaho, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts and 17 others will be dismissed when he is sentenced Jan. 10, the U.S. attorney's office for the District of Columbia said in release posted on its website. Ortega-Hernandez will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years of incarceration and up to 27 1/2 years, the prosecutors said.
"Firing an assault rifle at the White House to make a political statement is terrorism, plain and simple," U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said. "As we have seen this week, gunmen who come to the nation's capital bent on violence can inflict terrible damage. This act of cowardice put lives at risk. Today's plea demonstrates that those who come to the District of Columbia, planning to use violence to send a message, should expect to spend decades behind bars."
Federal authorities said Ortega-Hernandez, who fired at least eight shots from his semiautomatic rifle at the White House in November 2011, had made repeated statements to friends and associates in Idaho about his contempt for the federal government. He also claimed the federal government was seeking to control Americans through Global Positioning System chips, fluoride in drinking water and the artificial sweetener aspartame. He criticized the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, contending the United States was "bullying" other countries to obtain oil.
He also was known to refer to President Obama as "the devil" and "the anti-Christ," and had spoken of being "on a mission from God to take out Obama."