(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, the man accused of trying to assassinate President Barack Obama by firing several shots at the White House, must remain in custody to protect the public and the president, a federal judge said Monday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola's order that Ortega-Hernandez be detained without bond was not unexpected given the seriousness of the charges he faces. It followed a two-hour hearing in which Ortega's public defender aggressively questioned an FBI agent about the strength of the government's case and apparent contradictions in witness statements.
Authorities say Ortega used an assault rifle on Nov. 11 to fire on the White House. The president was out of town at the time of the alleged assassination attempt. Two bullets and one bullet fragment were recovered from the grounds of the executive mansion, including one that was stopped by bulletproof glass. Investigators found five bullet impact points on the south side of the building, on or above the second story, where the first family resides.
Ortega's friends and associates told investigators that the 21-year-old Idaho native has been obsessed with Obama and referred to the president as the antichrist. Ortega, who has shoulder-length dark hair and a long beard, called himself "the modern-day Jesus Christ" and told at least one person he intended to kill the president, authorities allege.
Ortega's attorney, David Bos, argued that prosecutors had failed to establish that Ortega was present when the shots were fired or that the president was the target of the attack. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Borchert, however, said the government had substantial evidence linking Ortega to the shooting.
"It's his car. It's his gun. It's his bullets," Borchert said. "There's a compelling case of identification here."
Prosecutors have raised concerns about Ortega's mental state, although an initial psychiatric screening found him competent to stand trial.
"The defendant is a particularly dangerous individual," Judge Facciola said, adding that he could not set any conditions for release that would ensure public safety.
Ortega will continue to be held in an undisclosed federal detention facility. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted, and Facciola said he would be a flight risk if released.