The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

White House Shooter Fan of Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones

By Leah Nelson on November 21, 2011 - 1:41 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Conspiracies

The 21-year-old Idaho man who shot at the White House earlier this month was a fan of antigovernment conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, The New York Times reports today.

Oscar Ortega, the Mexican-American waiter from Idaho Falls who on Nov. 11 fired a semiautomatic rifle out of his car window while driving by the president’s residence, allegedly believes that he is the “modern day Jesus Christ” and that Obama is the antichrist. His friend Jake Chapman, who sold Ortega the AK-47 used in the shooting, told the Times that about a year ago, he and Ortega watched Jones’ 2009 “The Obama Deception,” a feature-length film promulgating the theory that the president is the puppet of shadowy agents of the New World Order who plan to transform America into a totalitarian state resembling Nazi Germany.

Chapman, 21, said he had never heard Ortega discuss violent action.

Ortega’s sister Yesenia Hernandez told the Times she thinks her brother was motivated by mental illness. Research psychiatrist Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Va., agreed, telling reporters that Ortega’s behavior, and the age at which it started, suggest a “textbook case of schizophrenia”

Hatewatch asked Torrey about the extent to which a schizophrenic person’s thinking might be affected by conspiracy theories like those Jones espouses.

“There are all kinds of crazy people putting out all kinds of crazy ideas, that’s been true forever and now it’s been magnified by a thousand by the internet,” Torrey said in a phone interview this morning. “People whose brains are working normally can hopefully work it out and realize, ‘this is a crazy idea.’ But if your brain is not working normally, you have less ability to work it out. Assuming Mr. Ortega has schizophrenia, he has less ability to sort through crazy ideas.”

Ortega is not the only violent extremist to whom Jones’ antigovernment conspiracy theories have appealed.

Byron Williams, the would-be terrorist who was arrested in July 2010 after a shootout with cops on his way to San Francisco, where he allegedly planned to kill employees at the offices of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation, also followed Jones. Another fan was Richard Poplawski, a white supremacist who was sentenced to death in September for the 2009 shooting deaths of three Pittsburgh police officers. Shortly after the murders, his friend Edward Perkovic told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Poplawski, 22, followed Jones, and that among other things he feared an attack on gun rights and thought that U.S. troops would be used against citizens – exactly the sort of conspiracist speculation that Jones specializes in.

True to form, a Nov. 18 article posted on Jones’ website, InfoWars, suggests that Ortega was a plant, possibly even a Mossad agent. “There are interesting facts surrounding Oscar Ortega-Hernandez and this case. At this point in time, we are left with more questions than answers,” it says. “How was it possible for a reportedly mentally challenged person to fire multiple high-caliber rounds into the White House from Constitution Avenue and escape the immediate security area without being detained? … More facts will undoubtedly filter out as this case proceeds.”

  • zionistcancer

    I believe you forgot to mention that this shooter has the word “Israel” tattooed on his neck…

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Right Travis, because Alex Jones has so much credibility.

  • Travis

    Just another hit piece with no gravitas from the SPLCenter which lost all credibility long ago.

  • Sam Molloy

    Unfortunately, although gun dealers, even at a gun show, have to do a background check (that disappears with no record), there is no way to close the oft mentioned “gun show loophole”, meaning private sales are legal, without full registration, which is impossible to do and most rational people do not want. That said, Jake Chapman could be prosecuted in most states for “allowing access to a firearm of someone reasonably likely to commit a crime”. The wording varies, and it could be hard to prove, but most states have a similar law.

  •, Aron


    You can’t forget the agents of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderburg Group, and Bohemian Grove!

    Also Martians.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    His body was riddled by a hail of bullets fired by agents of the Illuminati, Masons, the Mafia, Cuban intelligence, the KGB, International bankers, radical Muslims, Opus Dei, the CIA, the Girl Scouts, and SAG.

  •, Aron


    Jack Kennedy was shot.

  • Jonas Rand

    @Reynardine – not sure I get the reference (then again, it was years before I was born). What happened in 1963?

  • Reynardine

    I was sitting at an outdoor canteen at the University of Miami forty-eight years ago when the unthinkable became reality. I don’t want to live that day again.

  • Jane Schiff

    Have either Ortega or Chapman had any alliances with our military? I realize it’s useless posing the question about
    why did this happen on Veteran’s Day?

  • CM


    I agree that it’s important to avoid stigmatizing people who have mental illnesses, and Torrey’s use of the term “crazy” was perhaps ill-judged. However, it’s clear from the context that he was using the word to describe irrational or illogical thinking, not mental illness, as these lines indicate: “People whose brains are working normally can hopefully work it out and realize, ‘this is a crazy idea.’ But if your brain is not working normally, you have less ability to work it out. Assuming Mr. Ortega has schizophrenia, he has less ability to sort through crazy ideas.”

    From my own experience, he’s right about that. A clinically diagnosed schizophrenic of my acquaintance used to “go off his meds” periodically. Every time he did, he started spouting Lyndon Larouche-inspired conspiracy theories about the British royal family being behind the global trade in illegal drugs. But when he was taking his medications, he readily admitted that those theories were “crazy.” What makes someone like Alex Jones disturbing is that putting him on medication probably wouldn’t make any difference.

  • Patrick Wm. Connally

    Wonderful article except for Dr. Torrey’s handicappest language. Most people with psychatric disabilities deserve the respect any person with an illness which our society refuse to treat should have.

  • Amanda

    This guy is NOT Jesus. Jesus Himself warned against imposters and false messiahs. Mathew 24:24
    says: For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

  • Ben F

    @IThink I’m sure you mean famed ex-leftist hateradio host Michael Savage, not columnist and gay activist Dan Savage.

  • pork

    I dont like Alex Jones, but fail to see how this was his fault.

  • Gregory

    If it weren’t for “mentally challenged” people, then Alex Jones would have no traffic on his websites.

  • CIA Jon

    Alex Jones is crazy. When will he run out of steam?

  • IThink

    Is he any different than Scott Roeder assassinating Dr. Tiller ‘the Baby Killer’ after hearing the repeated taunt and character defamation attacks from B.O. Reilley?

    Is he any different that Richard Polawski (groupie to Glenda the Good Pundit and Mo-Ron Paul) killing three police officers out of FEAR of his GUNS he didn’t NEED being taken away by Obama, nevermind the man has yet to mention any sort of restricting legislation on it yet?

    Is he any different that James von Brunn shooting up the Holocaust Museum as a good-faith, ‘anti-violence’ member of Aryan Nations in 2009?

    Is he any different than Jim David Adkisson opening fire DURING A YOUTH MUSICAL @ a Unitarian Universalist church hoping to kill all Democrats and liberals, and being a fan of Sean Hannity, B.O. Reilley, and Dan Savage as motivation for the unrealistic hatred?

    And lets not forget the latest and greatest terrorist act that had NOTHING to do w/ Islam or Muslims, excepting irrational hatred of them, Andrew Breivik, a good Christian blue eyed and blonde haired fellow who thought by slaying so many inncocents he’d save Europe from the evils of multiculturalism and diversity (like saying you can eat a balanced ‘food pyramid’ diet by eating different items from the some category)?

    The resounding answer is no,no,no, and oh yes, the former Ron Paul supporter who was discharged and than demonstrated at a four way intersection in full KKK regalia, a loaded hand gun, and an American flag the day after Obama’s election? Nope, wingnuts of the same feather do indeed migrate in the same insanity continuum!…

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Leah Nelson,

    Alex Jones is so far out there, that he’s really become a self parody. There’s this one youtuber, who goes by the name Morrakiu, who has a series called Alex Jones Lulz. I’d consider linking to it, here, but the guys channel, and his series is not for children.

  •, Aron

    How was he able to escape?

    Let’s see. Five rounds fired out of a motor vehicle.

    Lots and lots of people around the White House.

    Constitution Ave is a REALLY big thoroughfare.

    I dunno, AlexJonesers. How was he able to escape?