Washington Post: Sloppy Secret Service Work After White House Shooting Involving Idaho Man


The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Secret Service made some nearly fatal errors in their response to an incident involving an Idaho man, who fired at least seven bullets at the White House in November 2011.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez has been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in a federal prison, but the Post investigated records surrounding the case and learned that the Secret Service bungled its response to the shooting. In fact, it took four days to realize that the White House had been hit by gunfire. The details are chronicled by the Post in a story entitled, "The Night Bullets Hit the White House—and the Secret Service Didn't Know."

Ortega-Hernandez, originally from Idaho Falls, had a background of legal problems and "a history of aberrant behavior," according to federal prosecutors. He had been reported missing for nearly a month by his family prior to the incident on Nov. 11, 2011, when he shot at the White House with a semiautomatic weapon.

Ortega-Hernandez had criminal records in Idaho, Texas and Utah, including drug usage, underage drinking, domestic violence, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were away from the White House that weekend, but their younger daughter, Sasha, was still in the house and older daughter Malia was expected home any minute at the time of the shooting.

But the Post reports that while the Secret Service acknowledged gunshots in the vicinity, it took more than four days for them to determine that the shots had indeed hit the White House, and only then because a housekeeper noticed the bullet holes.

The Post also reports that the president and first lady were quite upset over the Secret Service's handling of the investigation. An internal probe also revealed that the Secret Service lacked camera and audio surveillance around the White House perimeter "that would have helped the agency solve the case more quickly," according to the Post.