Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Accused White House shooter Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, charged with attempted assassination of President Barack Obama, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial.
Magistrate Judge Alan Kay, during a hearing today in federal court in Washington, also ordered Ortega-Hernandez, 21, to remain in custody until a hearing on Nov. 28.
Ortega-Hernandez, shackled and dressed in a white T-shirt and burgundy pants, told Kay he had no money to hire an attorney. Kay appointed public defenders David W. Bos and Lara Quint to represent him.
Bos asked the judge to drop the charges, arguing that the witnesses to the shooting weren’t able to identify Ortega-Hernandez as the suspect. Kay ruled that the case should move forward.
Prosecutor George Varghese told Kay that Ortega-Hernandez posed a “serious risk of flight,” having been charged with a violent crime that triggered a multistate manhunt involving the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is also on two-years probation in Idaho for resisting arrest and obstructing justice stemming from an arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia, Varghese said.
Ortega-Hernandez was charged with trying to kill Obama after he allegedly fired a semi-automatic rifle at the White House on Nov. 11.
He drove to Washington with an assault rifle and other weapons after telling people in his home state of Idaho that he “needed” to assassinate the president, according to documents filed in federal court in Washington last week. The attempted assassination charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Ortega-Hernandez appeared in federal court in Pittsburgh on Nov. 17 the day after his arrest by Pennsylvania State Police at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania.
A task force of federal and local law enforcement agencies had been searching for the gunman who fired shots from a street less than 800 yards from the White House just after 9 p.m. local time on Nov. 11. Obama had already departed for a nine-day trip to Hawaii and Asia at the time of the shooting.
The case is U.S. v. Ortega-Hernandez, 11-833, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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