Man Linked To 2010 D.C.-Area Shootings

Jun 22, 2011

Federal sources say ballistics evidence ties a man arrested at Arlington National Cemetery last week to a series of mysterious shootings in the Washington, D.C., area.

Yonathan Melaku, 22, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, has been in custody since police found him wandering last week after the cemetery had closed. He was carrying a backpack he said was full of explosives. The FBI later determined the material in the backpack was inert.

Melaku of Alexandria, Va., also had a notebook that contained the words "al-Qaida" and "Taliban Rules" written inside. The context of the words was not immediately clear.

FBI investigators had always thought the person responsible for shooting the Marine Corps Museum and the Pentagon last year had a grudge against the military. Now, if early ballistics tests are accurate, that hunch may prove right.

Two sources say they have linked Melaku, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethiopia, to last year's shootings at those locations.

No one was hurt in the shootings, which took place at night when buildings were empty. The Marine Corps museum was targeted twice. Two windows were shot out at the Pentagon, and a Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Va., outside Washington was also targeted.

Authorities are continuing to investigate Melaku's connections and other activities leading up to his arrest. He's being held on local larceny charges while the FBI examines his background.

Melaku has a status hearing Thursday in Loudoun County, Va., on the unrelated larceny charges. He has not been charged in the incident last week or the shootings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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