NEW: Oscar Ortega taped a video pitch to Oprah Winfrey, released Friday by Idaho State
NEW: He accuses the U.S. government of being bullies and deceiving its citizens
NEW: "I was sent here from God to lead the world to Zion," he adds
His family says they saw changes in him:some worrisome, some good
Weeks before his arrest on a charge of attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama, an Idaho man taped a video pitch for Oprah Winfrey – expressing his contempt for government, offering secrets to solving global problems and proclaiming himself to be “the modern-day Jesus Christ.”
The video, released Friday to CNN by Idaho State University, features a man dressed in all black, with brown hair, a beard and a crucifix hanging around his neck.
“My name is Oscar Ortega from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and I feel like I am the perfect candidate to get cast on your show because not only do I have a solution to make a huge impact on this world with small changes to our daily lives, I also have with me the answer to worldwide peace,” he states.
The previous Friday, a witness in Washington described to investigators hearing about “eight sounds of popping noise” and seeing “puffs of air” from a car that was registered to Ortega. One bullet hit a window on the White House but was stopped by bulletproof glass, the Secret Service said, while another was found on the White House exterior.
The president was in California that day, traveling with first lady Michelle Obama later that night to Hawaii.
The suspect, identified in court records as Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho Falls, was arrested Wednesday in western Pennsylvania.
Many questions remain unanswered about the young man who faces the rare charge of trying to kill the president of the United States.
Public and court records shed some light on Ortega’s background, as does a story that appeared Friday in the Post Register in Idaho Falls. So, too, does the video shot by Idaho State student Ramon Bailey in September, according to CNN affiliate KIFI.
In the video, Ortega alludes to having had “a taste of gang life … as a child,” suggesting he’s moved on.
He segues to a rant against the U.S. government, which he claims bullies other nations and has “deceived the American people so that (it) can steal other countries’ goods, which is the oil.”
“I have never felt so sure about something in my whole life. I’m willing to defend these words with my heart, my soul, flesh and bones,” Ortega says. “Please do not take me as a joke or as a deception. I have never felt so sure that I was sent here from God to lead the world to Zion.”
Later, he adds, “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” – before “begging” Winfrey to put him on her show.
The “Oprah” show went off the air last spring. Still, Winfrey remains involved in the OWN network she helped create, and its website features “casting calls” for people who might want to get on air.
Ortega left his home in Idaho Falls in a black Honda a month ago, telling his family he was going on vacation for a week, according to the Post Register. The next time his family heard any news of his whereabouts was when investigators in Pennsylvania arrested him.
His sister, Yesenia Hernandez, told the Post Register that she noticed that her brother’s appearance had recently changed. He used to cut his hair once a week, she told the paper. That’s a contrast to the image of a young man with an unruly beard who has appeared on television screens across the country.
With long, tangled hair and a beard, Ortega wore a white jumpsuit and was handcuffed, his legs chained, as he entered a courtroom this week guarded by U.S. marshals.
“That’s what started making me think there was something wrong,” his sister told the Idaho newspaper. “I’d ask, ‘Is it for the (mixed-martial arts) fighting?’ He said, ‘No. I’m just trying something different.’ It was weird. Now he looks like, I guess, like a terrorist. It’s like he’s trying to play out the part.”
Ortega’s mother, Maria Hernandez, also saw changes in her son but told the Post Register that they were of a more positive nature.
Before, he would party a lot, and before his recent departure from Idaho, had been spending more time with his son, whose name is tattooed on his neck, his mother said. Ortega mentions his son in the video.
“A year ago, every Friday and Saturday night, he was out partying with his friends and not coming home at all,” Maria Hernandez told the newspaper. “He started staying home on the weekends with his little boy.
“It was not like he was acting violent or getting drunk and all drugged up.”
Ortega’s relatives did not respond to CNN interview requests this week.
Public records show that Ortega had a series of run-ins with the law going back into his teen years. Some charges were for minor infractions, like failure to affix tags to a dog’s collar and seat belt violations. He was charged at least twice with battery, but those charges were dismissed. In 2010, in connection with one of those incidents, he was convicted of resisting arrest.
Other charges included minor-in-possession of alcohol charges and even more traffic violations. In some cases, he was found guilty and paid fines, and others were dismissed.
According to an FBI affidavit, one witness – identified only as “W-4” – told investigators that Ortega “has increasingly become more agitated against the federal government, and is convinced that the federal government is conspiring against him.”
He “wanted to ‘hurt’ President Obama and referred to him as ‘the anti-Christ,’ ” the witness said.
Another witness, identified as “W-6,” also quoted Ortega calling Obama “the anti-Christ.” This witness told agents Ortega told him he “needed to kill him.”
A third witness, “W-7,” told investigators Ortega owned an “AK-47 like gun.” His “opinions and comments regarding the government and President Obama have gotten worse” over the past year, the witness told agents.
“W-7 stated that Ortega-Hernandez believed President Obama is ‘the devil,’ and that Ortega-Hernandez ‘will not stop until it’s done.’” the affidavit said. “W-7 also reported that Ortega-Hernandez stated President Obama ‘needed to be taken care of.’ “