White House Shooter Called a 'Textbook Case' of Schizophrenia

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Oscar Ortega, the man who faces assassination charges for allegedly firing a gun at the White House on Nov. 11, found success as a mixed martial arts fighter over the summer, but he also suffered from, as a psychiatrist told The New York Times, in a "textbook case" of schizophrenia. Ortega got into fighting about a year ago, The Times reports in a lengthy profile of the suspect. He won his first bout in July in just two rounds, but his interest in the sport only preceded what appears to be a descent into the clutches of schizophrenia by a few months. Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Va., told The Times the White House attracted many in Ortega's position:


“These folks often end up in Washington as what we used to call ‘White House cases,’ ” he said. “A White House case classically is someone who comes to the guard at the White House and says they have a special message for the president, or they try to go over the wall. We’ve seen dozens. They almost always have paranoid schizophrenia, and they almost always respond to medication.” Among the patients being treated there is John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Mr. Ortega, he acknowledged, is accused of going much further than pestering a guard or climbing a wall.

“I can guarantee you that in his mind, it all makes perfect sense,” Dr. Torrey said. “If he’s Christ, Obama’s the Antichrist.”

Ortega didn't really want to kill the president, his friends said, but part of his strange behavior of late had him reading a "45-minute speech at his 21st birthday party in October that veered from supporting marijuana legalization to detailing the threat of secret societies to expressing frustration with American foreign policy in oil-producing countries." He pitched Oprah Winfrey on a television appearance about his ideas, and the White House visit may have been along the same lines, his friends said, according to The Times. "They said that he could not have truly wanted to kill the president, but that he may have wanted a larger audience.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.