US & Canada

White House shooting suspect Oscar Ortega arrested

Law enforcement officials examine a White House window for damage
Image caption The window thought to have been hit is on the south side of the White House

A man wanted in connection with a shooting near the White House has been arrested, the US Secret Service says.

Authorities in Indiana, Pennsylvania held Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, on Wednesday, officials said.

Two bullets were found at the White House, one of which struck a protective window when it was fired.

The casings were found on the grounds during a probe launched after Friday's shooting, but have not yet been "conclusively connected" to it.

"An assessment of the exterior of the White House is ongoing," the Secret Service told the AFP news agency.

Distinguishing tattoos

One bullet broke an external pane of glass and but was stopped by the protective inner layer, while another round hit the building.

The casings were found on the south side of the White House, where the private presidential residence is located, including the master bedroom and the Lincoln bedroom.

Image caption Oscar Ortega-Hernandez was initially stopped by police in Virginia on Friday, but was not arrested

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were not at home at the time, as they were on their way to Hawaii to host the APEC summit of Asia-Pacific regional leaders.

The president and first lady travelled without daughters Malia and Sasha and it is not known if the girls were in the White House at the time of the shooting.

The discovery of the bullets, which were found on Tuesday, followed reports of gunfire between the White House and the Washington Monument at about 21:30 local time on Friday evening.

Witnesses heard shots and saw two speeding vehicles in the area. An AK-47 rifle was also recovered, the Associated Press reported.

In a blog post issued by the US Park Police, Sgt David Schlosser said the investigation into the shooting had led them to issue a warrant for the arrest of Mr Ortega.

"As the investigation unfolded, the US Park Police located a vehicle in the 2300 block of Constitution Avenue," Sgt Schlosser said, some seven blocks from the White House.

"Evidence in the vehicle led to us obtaining an arrest warrant for Oscar Ortega."

On Friday morning, he was stopped by police in nearby Arlington, Virginia, after a report of a suspicious person.

According to Arlington officials, police took photos of Mr Ortega but did not have any reason to arrest him.

He was then detained on Wednesday at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania, in the south-western part of the state, and is in custody of the state police.

A tip from someone who identified Mr Ortega led to his arrest, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie told the Associated Press.

Mr Ortega was described as a white Hispanic male of medium build, with several distinguishing tattoos - including three dots on his right hand, his name across his back and the word Israel tattooed on his neck.

Originally from the state of Idaho, he was believed to be living in the Washington DC area, and was reported missing on 31 October by his family.

Mr Ortega has an arrest record in three states, but has not been linked to any radical organisations, the US Park Police said.

Sgt Schlosser told reporters on Monday that officials couldn't ascribe motivation to Mr Ortega's actions.

"Specifically what he was aiming at, or not aiming at, is something that would be better addressed by interviewing him," he said. "Otherwise, it's just speculation."

The last time bullets hit the White House, Francisco Martin Duran shot at the mansion 27 times with a semi-automatic rifle in 1994, in an attempt to assassinate then-President Bill Clinton. No one was injured and Duran was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

A year later, the part of Pennsylvania Avenue on the north side of the White House was closed permanently to traffic.

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