Updated: Thursday, June 23, 2011
New York (Tadias) – Lance Corporal Yonathan Melaku, the 22-year old Marine reservist, who was detained for trespass last Friday morning at Arlington National Cemetery on suspicion of carrying bomb making materials near the Defense Department headquarters, has been linked to a series of shootings at nearby military sites that took place last fall, The Washington Post reports.
Melaku, who has been jailed in Virginia on charges unrelated to the Pentagon incident since Friday, was taken into custody at Arlington National Cemetery that morning suspected of carrying bomb making materials, including what was believed to be ammonium nitrate, and pro-al Qaeda literature. The FBI, however, later determined that there was nothing that would cause immediate public concern.
According to the Washington Post: “No charges have been filed against Melaku in the series of five shootings at Northern Virginia military sites, which have been linked by investigators to the same weapon. But federal law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation said evidence found Friday links Melaku to the shootings.The evidence against Melaku is “strong,” according to one federal source who said it involved “ballistics matches” but was not more specific.”
Police records show Melaku also have recent history of run-ins with the law involving car vandalism and theft. He was arrested on May 26 in Leesburg, Virginia, for allegedly smashing windows and stealing property from 27 cars. He faces four counts of grand larceny and is scheduled to appear in Loudoun County District Court in connection with these crimes.
Melaku is a naturalized American citizen from Ethiopia. According to the FBI, he serves “a Marine Corps reservist Lance Cpl and a motor vehicle operator with Combat Engineer Support Company, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve. He has previously been awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal. He has not deployed overseas.”
Photo credit: Yonathan Melaku in a booking photo from an arrest in May. (Leesburg Police Department/Reuters/May 26, 2011)