US Reservist Charged in Shootings at Military Buildings

Posted June 23rd, 2011 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. prosecutors have charged a 22-year-old Marine Corps reservist in five Washington area shootings at military installations.

Yonathan Melaku was detained last week near the Pentagon. Prosecutors say he had a backpack containing spent 9mm shell casings, and ammonium nitrate, which can be used to make explosives.

U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said the charges announced Thursday allege a “long-term pattern of violent behavior against the U.S. military.”

Authorities say Melaku shot at the U.S. Marine Corps Museum twice, as well as at the Pentagon, a Marine Corps recruiting station, and a U.S. Coast Guard recruiting station. The shootings in October and November of 2010 occurred outside normal working hours and no one was injured.

Melaku is charged with destruction of property and firearms violations, and faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted of two charges of using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Melaku, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethiopia, was detained last week after being discovered overnight inside Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington.

Officials said he had a notebook with written material mentioning al-Qaida, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. The affidavit alleges a search of his home turned up a video that showed the suspect shooting out of a vehicle while driving near what appeared to be the Marine Corps museum.