The man suspected of firing the bullet that hit a White House window last week was arrested on Wednesday in Pennsylvania, according to reports.
U.S. Park Police issued a warrant for Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, 21, on Friday, based on evidence obtained from an abandoned car near the scene. On Wednesday, police arrested Ortega-Hernandez at a hotel in Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press and CBS News.
While police closed off parts of Constitution Avenue near the White House on Friday night to investigate reports of gunfire, the Secret Service hasn't "conclusively connected" the incident with the latest discovery of bullets. The round that hit the White House window was stopped by ballistic-proof glass. Another round was found on the White House exterior on Tuesday.
On Friday, police recovered an AK-47 rifle and saw a driver get out of a speeding car on Constitution Avenue, the Associated Press reported, but at the time police could not confirm that bullets were fired or that the White House was targeted.
Wednesday’s arrest of Ortega-Hernandez is a reminder of the vulnerability of the president’s house even after security was tightened considerably after the most brazen assault on the building 17 years ago.
It was a crisp autumn Saturday afternoon Oct. 29, 1994, when Francisco Martin Duran stopped on the south sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. At 2:55 p.m., he reached under his tan trench coat and pulled out a Chinese-made SKS semiautomatic rifle, poked its barrel through the bars of the White House fence and stared spraying bullets toward the building while President Bill Clinton was inside watching television. An official government investigation of the incident noted that he then pulled back the rifle and ran down the sidewalk, continuing to shoot toward the White House even as a Secret Service agent ran toward him on the lawn, miraculously dodging the bullets. The report said at least 29 bullets were fired, 11 striking the building and one penetrating a window in the press briefing room.
Only when Duran paused to reload was he stopped. Tourists pounced on him, holding him until the Secret Service could arrive on the scene. Officers found another magazine in his coat, loaded with 30 rounds of live ammunition.
Duran was convicted the next year of attempting to assassinate the president, illegally possessing firearms, causing $3,400 damage to federal property, and using illegal weapons in committing a violent crime. He was sentenced to 44 years in prison, where he remains today.
Duran’s act would be largely forgotten had it not triggered a sweeping overhaul of security procedures at the White House. It was because of Duran’s crime – coming only a month after a Maryland man high on cocaine stole a Cessna and crashed it on the South Lawn of the White House at 1:49 a.m. Sept. 12 – that the changes were pushed through. Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed off to civilian vehicular traffic and turned into a pedestrian mall.
Also, uniformed Secret Service officers, who had to run to the scene of Duran’s shooting from the Northwest Gate, are now seen standing close by the fence. And two Secret Service vehicles are always parked on Pennsylvania Avenue.