Man who shot at White House sentenced to 25 years in prison

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:19pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Idaho man who fired a rifle at the White House in 2011 was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in prison, lawyers said.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., for firing at least eight rounds with a semi-automatic rifle.

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were not in Washington at the time, and no one was hurt. Bullets narrowly missed Secret Service officers guarding the White House, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement.

Ortega-Hernandez shot from his car and then fled, according to prosecutors. He was later arrested about 200 miles away in Pennsylvania.

Prosecutors said Ortega-Hernandez was motivated by hatred for Obama, and they originally charged him with trying to assassinate the president.

They dropped the charge when he agreed in September to plead guilty to a weapons charge and to placing lives in jeopardy.

Defense lawyers called Ortega-Hernandez a confused, desperate man who shot at the White House to draw attention to what he thought was an impending Armageddon. In court papers, they asked for a sentence of 10 years, citing his "extreme youth and his improved insight into his own actions."

Prosecutors said Ortega-Hernandez should be given a longer sentence for his "terrorist act," and they requested 27 years and six months.

"Anyone who comes to the nation's capital planning to use violence should expect to spend decades behind bars," Machen said.

Robert Feitel, one of the defense lawyers, called the 25-year sentence a tragedy. He declined to say whether they would appeal the sentence.

(Editing by Howard Goller and Lisa Shumaker)

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