FBI press release: Yonathan Melaku, 22, of Alexandria, Va., has been charged with destruction of property and firearm violations involving five separate shootings at military installations in Northern Virginia between October and November 2010.
Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.
If convicted, Melaku faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each of the two willfully injuring the property of the United States charges and a total mandatory minimum of 35 years and a maximum of life in prison if he is convicted of both use of a firearm during a crime of violence charges.
“Today’s charges allege a long-term pattern of violent behavior against the U.S. military that escalated until his detention last Friday,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “The affidavit states that what began as a drive-by shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps grew to a series of armed attacks targeting multiple military installations seeking to shut them down. It culminated with Mr. Melaku’s apprehension near the Pentagon in possession of a backpack containing ammonium nitrate, one of the components used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.”
The affidavit alleges that law enforcement found a videotape in Melaku’s bedroom that shows Melaku in an automobile driving near what appears to be the U.S. Marine Corps Heritage Museum and repeatedly firing a handgun out the passenger-side window. Melaku allegedly made numerous statements on the video, including “That’s my target. That’s the military building. It’s going to be attacked” and at the conclusion of multiple shots exclaiming “Allahu Akbar.”
The U.S. Marine Corps reports that Melaku joined the Marine Corps Reserve on Sept. 4, 2007, and is currently listed as a Marine Corps reservist .