White House Shooter Could Face Life Sentence

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 21, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Idaho man Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, the alleged White House shooter, was charged on Thursday for the attempted presidential assassination of Barack Obama.

This charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison under federal law.

Ortega-Hernandez is accused of shooting nine rounds towards the White House from a public street. He now joins the ranks of individuals who have attempted assassinations against U.S. presidents.

Here are some other noteworthy attempts:

  • Gerald R. Ford (September 22, 1975): Sara Jane Moore, a former FBI informant, fired a shot from a revolver at President Ford's head in San Francisco. The bullet missed and the president was uninjured. Moore was arrested spent 32 years in prison until she was paroled.
  • Ronald Reagan (March 30, 1981): John Hinckley, Jr., a college dropout, fired six rounds at Reagan when he walked out of a Washington hotel. Hinckley had hoped to impress actress Jodie Foster. The shots wounded several, including the president who was rushed to the hospital. In 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to a mental institution, where he remains to this day, though his attorneys are starting legal actions to get him released.
  • Bill Clinton (October 29, 1994): Francisco Martin Duran fired multiple shots on a public street toward the White House. Nobody was injured, and Duran was arrested and sentenced to 40 years behind bars after a jury trial. Trial testimony indicated that Duran hated the federal government.

If White House shooter Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez is convicted by a jury, whatever sentence he may face over the alleged presidential assassination attempt could be lengthy. But there have been questions raised about Ortega-Hernandez's mental health. A video has surfaced where he claims to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. So it's possible that he may be found mentally incompetent and unable to stand trial. He could also be raising an insanity defense.

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