The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and David Beach, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service.
The federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a 17-count indictment against Ortega-Hernandez, who has been in custody since his arrest November 16, 2011. In addition to the attempted assassination charge, Ortega-Hernandez was charged with assaulting federal officers with a deadly weapon, injuring property of the United States, and related firearms charges. The grand jury returned criminal charges against Ortega-Hernandez for violating District of Columbia law as well. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the charges carry a possible prison term of life imprisonment.
According to the government’s evidence, on November 11, 2011, at about 9 p.m., the defendant drove his Honda Accord westbound in the 1600 block of Constitution Avenue NW. He stopped the vehicle just past the entrance to the Ellipse, and fired several rounds at the White House. No one was injured. FBI investigators examined the building and located several confirmed bullet impact points on the south side of the building on or above the second story residence area. Several bullets and fragments also were collected in the area near the impact points.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin, and Special Agent in Charge Beach expressed their appreciation to all those who diligently investigated this case from the FBI, the Secret Service, and the U.S. Park Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys George P. Varghese and John W. Borchert of the National Security Section of the United States Attorney’s Office.