Man arrested after shots fired near White House
A 21-year-old man was arrested in Pennsylvania on Wednesday following a shooting near the White House and the discovery of a bullet that struck a window of one of the world’s most closely guarded buildings, authorities said.
President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, who live in the White House with their two daughters and the first lady’s mother, were in San Diego, California at the time of the incident, which resulted in no injuries.
Oscar Ortega-Hernandez was arrested by state police at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania, shortly after noon on Wednesday, Secret Service special agent Edwin Donovan said.
“Ortega-Hernandez is currently in the custody of the Pennsylvania State Police,” he said.
Donovan had said earlier that Ortega-Hernandez was being sought after gunshots were heard Friday night near the White House, about 600 to 700 yards (meters) away on Constitution Avenue.
Within five minutes of the shooting, authorities located an abandoned vehicle on Constitution Avenue, which runs along the north border of the Washington Mall.
“Evidence in the vehicle led to US Park Police obtaining an arrest warrant for Oscar Ortega-Hernandez,” Donovan said.
From Constitution Avenue, a shooter would have an clear line of sight to the White House, across the Ellipse and the South Lawn of the presidential mansion.
Traffic is not restricted on Constitution Avenue and members of the public can approach the wrought iron fence at the bottom of the South Lawn on foot.
Because the gunshots were heard so near the White House, the Secret Service launched an investigation and on Tuesday morning found damage to an exterior window of the White House.
“A round was stopped by ballistic glass behind the historic exterior glass. One additional round has been found on the exterior of the White House,” Donovan said.
“This damage has not been conclusively connected to Friday’s incident, and an assessment of the exterior of the White House is ongoing,” he said in a statement late Tuesday.
Ortega-Hernandez was described as a 21-year-old Hispanic male with a medium build, brown eyes, and black hair. But officials provided no other information about him, and how he was linked to the shooting.
Donovan would not comment on details of the incident, either, including the caliber of bullet found, the type of weapon used, or even which window was struck.
The White House’s southern facade has three levels. On the ground floor are offices, the Map Room and rooms where the White House china is on display.
On the main floor several rooms have south facing windows, including the East Room, where presidential press conferences are held; the Blue, Red and Green Rooms, named after their dominant color schemes; and the State Dining Room.
On the top floor are the private living quarters of the president and his family. The residence’s main bedroom, a dining room, a reception room and the Lincoln bedroom all have windows facing south.