WH shooter now bristles at federal 'terrorism enhancement' in case

Attorneys for a man who pleaded guilty in September to firing an assault rifle at the White House in 2011 don’t want “terrorism enhancement” to apply to his case.

Terrorism enhancement would lead to a heavier punishment in the case. Lawyers for Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez made the request in court filings Monday. [Read filing below.]

Terrorism enhancement, they argued, would be unconstitutional in the case. Ortega-Hernandez, however, did accept it in September as part of his guilty plea.

United States code says a federal crime of terrorism must be an offense that is "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct.” 

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The government must prove that defendants had “specific intent” to carry that out.

U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in September the crime was an act of terrorism.

“Firing an assault rifle at the White House to make a political statement is terrorism, plain and simple,” he said. 

In November 2011, Ortega-Hernandez, who’s in his early 20s, purchased a Romanian Cugir SA semi-automatic assault-style rifle and fired at least eight shots at the White House on its south side.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in California at the time. 

Earlier that year, he recorded two videos in which he praised Osama bin Laden “for having the courage to stand up to the United States.”

He could face up to 27 1/2 years in prison and will be sentenced on March 19.

DEFENDANT’S MEMORANDUM CONCERNING THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL APPLICATION OF THE TERRORISM ENHANCEMENT