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Accused White House gunman faces attempted assassination count

Handout image of White House shooting suspect Oscar Ortega-Hernandez
Handout image of White House shooting suspect Oscar Ortega-Hernandez

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Idaho man was formally indicted on Tuesday for attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama and on other criminal charges after he allegedly opened fire on the White House in November.

Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was named in a 17-count indictment that included charges of damaging the White House, illegal use of a firearm, assault with a dangerous weapon and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.

He previously had been charged in a criminal complaint with trying to kill the president when he allegedly fired on the executive mansion with a Romanian-made semi-automatic weapon on November 11. Obama was in California at the time and no one was injured.

According to the government's evidence, FBI investigators located several confirmed bullet marks on the south side of the White House on or above the second story residence area. Several bullets and fragments also were collected nearby, prosecutors said.

A grand jury indictment had been expected in the case and it represented the next step in the legal process. Ortega-Hernandez faces up to life in prison if convicted and his attorneys have argued that he is not guilty.

A doctor has determined that Ortega-Hernandez, who has referred to himself as a modern day Jesus Christ, was mentally competent to stand trial. He was arrested and has been held in custody since shortly after the shooting.

(Reporting By James Vicini; Editing by Eric Beech)

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