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BREAKING NEWS — Roads Closed Near Pentagon

by ARLnow.com — June 17, 2011 at 6:34 am 7,266 113 Comments

Update at 11:55 a.m. – News outlets have identified the man who was taken into custody as Yonathan Melaku of Alexandria. Melaku is a Marine Corps reservist, according to Fox News.

Update at 11:00 a.m. – The scene has been cleared and all roads around the Pentagon have reopened.

(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) A man has been taken into custody after he fled from police who observed him in Arlington National Cemetery around 1:30 a.m., the FBI said this morning.

The man, who is in his 20s, had a backpack containing materials that police found suspicious, according to Brenda Heck of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Those materials were found in bags within the backpack, but have since been determined to be non-explosive. Heck says authorities are still performing tests on the materials.

A police interview of the man led officers to a suspicious vehicle near the Pentagon. A search by the Arlington County bomb squad revealed nothing suspicious in the vehicle (pictured above, being towed from the scene), Heck said. She added that no suspicious ‘devices’ have been found.

Authorities are now saying that they believe the man “acted alone,” despite earlier reports that one or two people were being sought by police. Police are still not confirming details about the suspect — reported to be a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethiopia — except to say that he was uncooperative with investigators.

Washington Boulevard is still closed between Columbia Pike and Route 110. Route 110, which was closed earlier this morning, has reopened. Arlington National Cemetery was closed this morning while law enforcement agencies conducted their investigation but has also since reopened.

Update at 8:10 a.m. – Material has been detonated by the bomb squad. There was a small ‘boom’ that could be heard from the press staging area on S. Joyce Street. Arlington Police, U.S. Park Police, Pentagon Police and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force are all on the scene.

Update at 8:05 a.m. — The road closures are producing major traffic issues. Northbound I-395 is backed up all the way to the mixing bowl.

Update at 7:50 a.m – News crews have been told to expect a ‘loud bang’ in the next 5 minutes.

Earlier — Several major roads and on-ramps near the Pentagon have been shut down this morning due to a suspicious vehicle.

Police have blocked off Washington Boulevard between Columbia Pike and Route 110 and Route 110 between I-66 and I-395. Access to the north parking lot of the Pentagon has been limited, we’re told. TV crews, including local outlets and national outlets like CNN, have started staging in a parking lot on S. Joyce Street.

The road closure is remarkably similar to Monday night’s suspicious vehicle incident near the Pentagon.


  • Charlie

    What was w the Route 50 reference earlier??

    • Beth

      NBC just said that 50 is closed b/t Washington and GW Pkwy as well

    • Truthi

      We had a whack job Monday night due a similar thing with similar results and in a similar location. And I thought heat only affected the dogs.

  • Glebe Roader

    If you are on I-66 westbound and expect to take the Route 110 exit … you are screwed. That exit is blocked and you will have to go into the District via the Roosevelt bridge.

    • Hokie

      That would be 66 Eastbound…

      • Glebe Roader

        Correct. Eastbound. Thanks Hokie.

  • The Native

    Please note: Washington is closed today. Please try us again tomorrow. We appreciate your business.

    • ArlForester

      :D

    • Beth

      :) :)

    • wat

      Anyone who calls the area “Washington” is certainly not a native.

      • hoyacougar

        Anyone who thinks the comment was calling the area around the pentagon ‘Washington’ missed the point; most of the folks stuck in all that traffic are trying to get into Washington…

    • John Candy

      should have said “We’re sorry – we’re closed for two weeks to clean and repair America’s favorite family fun park”

      “The moose says you’re closed – *I* say you’re open”

      Then we would have all been relieved to hear that this was all about nothing more than a bb pistol

      • The Native

        Nice.

  • Lou

    Five comments and nobody has bragged about passing cars as they rode their bike to work? You people are slacking.

    • Chris

      The bikers must be too busy pulling on their Tour De France outfits and hugely sexy tights! You never know – there could be a scout out there ready to sign them up for the big race. They have to be ready!

    • jd

      Okay, I rode my bike to work — oops, I didn’t pass any cars. I do ride by this spot, but it was before any of this happened.

    • jd

      I rode my bike past there, this morning, but it was before any of this happened, so there were no cars to pass.

    • doodly

      Couldn’t ride my bike today, had to take Metro. No problems there either. ;)

  • CrystalMikey

    Rt 1 North in Crystal City is backed up now (actually surprised it took this long).

    • PCity

      Just moved to a new place in Pentagon City right above Route 1. I love working from home – feeling pretty smug right now.

  • SoCo Resident

    Is it that red Mini Cooper in the picture? Also, seems like a long way from Rt. 50 for it to be closed down.

    Last, is all this really necessary?

    • JamesE

      They need to close off a 5 mile radius in case the car has a 10 megaton warhead in it.

    • MINI LVR

      Cute MINI! Our DC Metro MINIs Club will be excited.

      As for me, I just got into work 15 minutes ago after walking from Henderson Hall to the Pentagon. Thank goodness it wasn’t too hot.

      • novanglus

        Nissan Versa

    • AllenB

      That’s right, SoCo, you know better than the police and the FBI. Must be an overreaction because the Pentagon has NEVER been a target before.

  • Lou

    CBS is saying they have someone in custody suspected of planting suspicious devices at the Pentagon, Cemetery, and Iwo Jima Memorial.

    • kc

      Appears all is clear for Iwo Jima. Tour busses are lined up in the driveway around the memorial as per normal. However, just below the entrance the road is blocked so no entrance from Marshall Drive to 110. Also no entrance to the bike trail that skirts around the west side of the cemetery.

  • Tabby

    I’m signed up for Arlington Alerts. Nothing has come through! And on wmata.com, there is no mention of any problems. No bus alerts? Come on.

    • Lou

      I got two Arlington Alert emails (first at 5:54) and a text message.

    • James

      I got two identical text messages and two emails I believe.

      • Chris

        That’s so odd- I’m with Tabby – I didn’t get anything either!

      • Lacey Forest

        Same here. First text/email at 5:54am. If you didn’t get anything, you might want to go to the Arlington Alert site and check your settings.

    • Tabby

      Hm. Last alert I received was June 14th.

      • Tabby

        I checked the settings (I don’t recall all those categories when I signed up). The box for Mass Transit Disruptions was already checked, but not Severe Traffic. Aren’t buses mass transit or do we only care about the trains? I can’t get to the Pentagon or Pentagon City via mass transit.

    • Rachel

      I got two alerts, last one at 6:30, which actually cited incorrect info. Honestly from what I’ve seen the whole Arlington Alerts doesn’t work that well as far as giving us advance notice of stuff – when I get them I’ve usually already heard from some other new outlet

      • Skeptical

        Sometimes I get the alert about a day late. I don’t know who coordinates this service but if I were depending on it for anything, I’d be screwed.

        • AllenB

          Sounds like it’s a problem with your cell provider, not the Arlington Alert system.

      • jan

        I really appreciate the Arlington Alert system.

        I received the first one at 5:54 and a second at 6:28 that corrected an error.

        • SaveDaveMcKenna

          ditto

      • Lou

        You expect advance notice from Arlington Alert about stuff like this? Really?

    • NancyDrew

      I got 2 alerts as well. 5:54 a.m. and another at 6:28 correcting the Rt 50/Wash Blvd mistake. Received both txts and emails.

      • Rachel

        except that the error correction was incorrect – Washington and 50 were BOTH closed down

  • John

    I’d love to recount all the cars I rode by this morning, but the bike path was remarkably clear.

    • jd

      At what time?

  • BerryBerryCold

    Are we going to hear about the suspect(s) ‘religion of peace’ or is their identify going to be swept under the rug just as the Rockville metro person earlier this week.

    We know if its a person of the oppressor race (Caucasian) they are quick to release the name and a mugshot.

    • charvakan

      You got a traffic update, Berry, or do you just want to vent about nonwhite nonChristians?

      • BerryBerryCold

        I want to know why the person who threatened a train at Rockville was not identified, was not charged, yet threatened a very dangerous situation and caused major chaos.

        Yet someone who just happened to back up incorrectly has had their name plastered all over the internet, charged with crimes (which are far less serious than those in this story) and has their picture everywhere.

        There seems to be a double standard.

        • doodly

          No, you don’t want to know why, you want to make assumptions.

          • Lou

            You just made an assumption right there.

          • doodly

            No I didn’t. I based it on his post.

          • BerryBerryCold

            I did not make an assumption, it was based upon a news source:

            Now I’ve had to go back and find other sources because the one I originally read had removed any description, but USA Today is still reporting it.

            http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/06/one-person-detained-in-connection-with-suspicious-vehicle-near-pentagon/1

            ABC reports that the man “appears to be a U.S. citizen of Ethiopian ethnicity.”

          • doodly

            No, you made assumptions based on the LACK of news reports. You have no idea why something was NOT reported, so you just want to assume it.

    • doodly

      Wow, BBC is a religious and racial bigot. Didn’t see that coming.

    • doodly

      So if a few Muslims attack, they’re all evil? Is that it, BBC?

    • doodly

      By the way, BBC, while we don’t know the suspect’s religion yet, Ethiopia is a majority-Christian country. But you don’t know and don’t care.

      • BerryBerryCold

        Actually, I do know. Another assumption you have made regarding me.

        But they do have a sizeable peace religon population (30-40%.)

        Why don’t we stop the back and forth and wait for the police to release the suspect’s name, booking photo, and charges.

        • doodly

          Assumptions are bad, aren’t they BBC?

          Take your Muslim-hate somewhere else.

  • charvakan

    I guess the Lamestream Media is just too PC to call it like a Real American would, Berry. Yeah, it’s a big old plot.

    Is Washington Boulevard open again? I don’t want to be late for our Klan meeting.

    • Joe Hoya

      You should be more concerned about reopening 110, since I assume the Klan meeting is somewhere on Jefferson Davis Highway.

  • Bluemont Joe

    Listening to the press conference with FBI and it sounds like an over response to someone who was loitering at the Cemetery

    • doodly

      Over-response beats under-response.

      • BerryBerryCold

        If you like living in a police state.

        Papers please.

        • doodly

          Yet nobody asked for anyone’s papers, did they? They chased someone suspicious very close to the Pentagon. Stick to the subject at hand.

          • BerryBerryCold

            “F.B.I. bomb technicians searching the house went in without a search warrant”

          • doodly

            Do I really have to explain all this to you? Is our education system that bad now?

      • madisonmanor

        You’re absolutely right as usual – it worked so well at Kent State. . .

        • doodly

          I am talking about this specific incident.

          • Stu Pendus

            But you’re making assumptions because you do not know the whole facts of this situation.

          • doodly

            My point is that the police didn’t know the whole facts of the situation, therefore they didn’t make assumptions, instead they took appropriate measures until they knew. It is silly to say they overreacted – hindsight is 20/20. Better to block traffic for a while than have a car bomb go off or whatever. That would REALLY block traffic, huh?

          • The Native

            The police didn’t make assumptions…. Heeelarious.

          • doodly

            No, they didn’t make assumptions that it was probably nothing to worry about. They erred on the side of safety, which is their job.

          • The Native

            Did they not assume that there was a danger? Yes they did. Like I assume you work for the government because you are on this site all day long posting things and not doing any work.

          • doodly

            No, they didn’t assume there was a danger, they erred on the side of danger until the knew otherwise. If they were in the business of assuming without gathering info, they would have just opened fire on the guy.

        • Stu Pendus

          Good point.

          • The Native

            Nope. You are just wrong.

  • Arlington

    If no suspicious devices were found, what was detonated?

    • PhilL

      Quiet citizen! The police are currently searching the suspect’s house for non-suspicious items with two Farifax County bomb trucks.

      • doodly

        If the guy was your next-door neighbor, you’d be the first to call the cops to search it for bombs.

        • PhilL

          Why would I?

          • doodly

            Because if a bomb goes off, your house could go with it.

            But I don’t have to tell you this.

          • Stu Pendus

            He’s just assuming things again.

          • doodly

            That’s true, this time I am assuming. You finally got the meaning of the word right!

            But PhilL knows I’m right and so do you.

          • PhilL

            You’re wrong. You don’t know what I would do.

          • doodly

            I said I was assuming. I don’t know what you would do.

            But you do.

    • Lou

      It looks like they blew the guys van up. Wonder if they have to reimburse for that, since their suspicions turned out to be wrong.

  • doodly

    Interesting – a suspect with the same name was also arrested for this:

    http://www.wjla.com/articles/2011/05/thieves-damage-27-leesburg-steal-items-61392.html

    • BerryBerryCold

      I don’t see the suspects name published yet – but just remember, we let him (that we have read about committing these crimes) in our country legally. We let them in right through the front door.

      It’s sad, but a lot of the blame is on us for these new “home” grown terrorists.

    • BerryBerryCold

      Legal citizen. Let in the front door.

      • brian

        and also a stop sign violation in 2009

        “MELAKU “,”YONATHAN “,” “,”021″,” 6209″,”SAGE “,”DR”,”ALEXANDRIA “,”VA”,”11/17/2009″,”FAIL STOP PRIOR ENT HWY FRM PRV RD ”
        “MELAKU “,”YONATHAN “,” “,”021″,” 6209″,”SAGE “,”DR”,”ALEXANDRIA “,”VA”,”11/17/2009″,”FAIL STOP PRIOR ENT HWY FRM PRV RD ”
        “MELAKU “,”YONATHAN “,” “,”021″,” 6209″,”SAGE “,”DR”,”ALEXANDRIA “,”VA”,”11/17/2009″,”FAIL STOP PRIOR ENT HWY FRM PRV RD ”
        “MELAKU “,”YONATHAN “,” “,”021″,” 6209″,”SAGE “,”DR”,”ALEXANDRIA “,”VA”,”11/17/2009″,”FAIL STOP PRIOR ENT HWY FRM PRV RD “

  • BerryBerryCold

    “that Heck said were a “non-explosive unknown material.”

    Heck said that the items were ultimately rendered “inert,” but will require further investigation.”

    How can a non-explosive material be rendered inert when it is already inert.

    • doodly

      It’s quite simple when you don’t go assuming perfect knowledge after the fact.

  • OX4

    Operation OVERREACT is in Full Effect!! Release all traffic cones, ASAP!

    • Stu Pendus

      Hope someone is watching the BB&T’s.

      • BerryBerryCold

        Distraction by the BBT perp(s)?

    • ITG

      Bunch of armchair security experts and limousine libertarians spouting off after the fact. I dare you all to put on a backpack that a weirdo who runs from the cops hands you at 1 am right next to the Pentagon (across from the memorial to those killed by lunatic terrorists even). Yeah, you’d piss your pants and run away.

  • PhilL

    They are saying all the roads have been reopened. (The Arlington alert system that is)

  • Bluemontsince1961
    • Lou

      Love the old school WTTG reference.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        I still refer to Regan National as “National Airport” and Virginia Hospital Center as “Arlington Hospital”. That’s dating myself!

        • Lou

          I’m with you on the Arlington Hospital part. I use Reagan, National, or DCA kind of interchangeably.

          Also, it’s still the Cabin John Bridge to me.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            I still call it the Cabin John Bridge as well a lot of the time. Sometimes I call 395 Shirley Highway, that’s the name everyone used when I was growing up.

          • That’s nothing:

            I still call Arlington “Alexandria County” and call Quincy Street Clements Street. @!$ newcomers.

          • V Dizzle

            I still call it “hives” instead of chlamydia. I’m with you.

          • BerryBerryCold

            I still call the Clara Barton Parkway the GW Parkway.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            How long have you lived in Arlington? I’ve lived here since my parents moved to Arlington from DC in 1956 a few months after I was born. Sounds like were a couple of “olds”.

          • brian

            I still include arlington in SW DC

          • Chief Powhatan

            I count Arlington as part of my native ancestral lands. By the way, get off my property.

  • ITG

    So a Muslim with a bag labeled “ammonium nitrate,” spent shells and a notebook with references to Al Queda and the Taliban is sneaking around the Pentagon.

    Yeah, overreaction.

  • BerryBerryCold

    Schlosser says the items in his backpack were “a little bit concerning.”

    Thought police anyone?

    • doodly

      Really? You actually post that?

  • ArlRat

    Trusty old Columbia Pike. Got on the metrobus at my normal time and rode all the way in to the Pentagon at 9:10…I guess everyone else was overreacting and drove.

  • Lou

    Sounds like they think this guy was the one shooting at the military buildings last year or whatever.

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