Reservist Charged in DC-Area Shootings

Yonathan Melaku videotaped himself firing shots, making threats
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2011 3:09 PM CDT
This undated file photo released by the Leesburg (Va.) Police Department shows Yonathan Melaku, 22, of Alexandria, Va., after his May 2011 arrest.   ((AP Photo/Leesburg Police Department, File))

(Newser) – A Marine Corps reservist arrested in a security scare near the Pentagon last week was charged today in a series of pre-dawn shootings at military buildings in the Washington area last year. Federal prosecutors found bomb-making materials in a backpack carried by 22-year-old Yonathan Melaku and a list of suspicious items inside his home, according to court documents. Authorities also discovered a video he took of himself firing shots outside one building last fall and saying the Arabic words "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great." He was charged with two counts each of damaging federal property with a gun and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

Melaku, a naturalized US citizen from Ethiopia, was detained early Friday for trespassing inside Arlington National Cemetery. In addition, to his backpack, which contained a quantity of inert ammonium nitrate, investigators recovered a video of Melaku firing a weapon outside the National Museum of the Marine Corps. “That’s what they get,” he said in the video. “That’s my target. That's the military building. It's going to be attacked.” An official has said Melaku has no known ties to al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization.

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