WASHINGTON — A man charged with attempting to assassinate US President Barack Obama by firing an assault rifle at the White House has been declared fit to stand trial, but the government Monday called for more tests and a full competency hearing.
Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, 21, who allegedly called Obama the “devil” and the “anti-Christ,” appeared briefly in federal court in handcuffs, sporting long black hair and a thick black beard and wearing dark-blue prison fatigues.
Government lawyers at the hearing in Washington said a report from a doctor concluding that the defendant was competent to stand trial was inadequate and demanded more.
“Although the government does not dispute that conclusion, the government notes that it was based only on a 50-minute screening and submits that a full psychiatric or psychological screening… is warranted,” lawyers said.
This is “given the serious nature of the criminal charges pending against the defendant and the likelihood that mental health issues may arise in the course of these proceedings,” they said in a court filing.
“Upon completion of the examination, the government requests that the court hold a hearing to determine the mental competency of the defendant.”
Lawyers for the defendant have until Friday to answer the government’s request.
The motion appeared intended to make absolutely sure that Ortega-Hernandez’s lawyers cannot claim at a later stage that he is unfit to stand trial.
Police arrested the defendant at a hotel in Pennsylvania six days after the November 11 shooting incident. Obama and his wife Michelle were in California at the time and no one was injured.
Within five minutes of the shooting authorities located an abandoned vehicle registered to Ortega-Hernandez containing a semi-automatic assault rifle “with a large scope mounted on the top portion of the weapon,” along with ammunition and nine spent shell casings.
The White House said at least two rounds hit the building, one piercing the outer window before being stopped by an interior layer of bullet-proof glass.
Two witnesses who know the suspect well said he had described Obama as the “devil” and the “anti-Christ,” according to the criminal complaint.
In an amateur video that aired on CBS News, Ortega-Hernandez presented himself as Jesus Christ.
“It’s not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus. I am the modern day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for,” he said.
Ortega-Hernandez faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.