WASHINGTON – A Marine reservist who was detained during a security scare near the Pentagon last week has been linked to the shootings last year at the Marine Corps museum in Quantico, Va., and several D.C.-area military recruitment stations, officials said Wednesday.
Ballistics evidence appears to link Yonathan Melaku, 22, to the shootings, one official said. The two officials spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Melaku, of Alexandria, Va., is being held without bail on unrelated larceny charges involving car break-ins that happened after the shootings. He has not been charged in last week’s incident or the building shootings.
Melaku, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethiopia, was detained Friday after he was spotted carrying a suspicious backpack near the Pentagon containing what initially was feared to be bomb-making material. Authorities later said the suspicious items were not explosive.
Melaku also had a notebook with the words “al-Qaida” and “Taliban Rules” written inside, one of the officials has said. The context of the words was not clear, but another law enforcement official has said Melaku is not believed to have any links to al-Qaida or any other terrorist organization.
He was detained on suspicion of trespassing after being found after-hours inside Arlington National Cemetery.
The shootings last year, all done with the same gun, did not injure anyone. The Marine Corps museum was targeted twice. Two windows were shot out at the Pentagon, and a Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Va., was also targeted.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in the eastern District of Virginia, declined to comment except to say that Melaku remains under investigation following last week’s incident. FBI spokesman Andrew Ames also declined to comment.
Melaku’s attorney, Robert May, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.