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.
The Arlington County bomb squad was called out to a grassy lot next to Faith Lutheran Church (3313 Arlington Blvd) in Ashton Heights this afternoon to investigate what looked like a hand grenade.
A bomb technician eventually determined that the object — which was found lying in the grass well away from the church — was not explosive and the scene was cleared within an hour. Based on initial descriptions, the object was likely a toy or a replica hand grenade.
Update at 2:25 p.m. — Charges have been filed against a North Carolina man.
Willie Amaz Braddy, 41, of Rocky Mount, N.C., was taken into state police custody and charged with reckless driving and for concealing a weapon without a valid permit. The incident remains under investigation.
Update at 6:30 a.m. — Virginia State Police have issued the following statement about last night’s incident.
At 8:30 p.m., a Virginia State Police trooper observed a vehicle backing up the southbound I-395 ramp to Route 27 in Arlington County Monday (June 12, 2011). The trooper stopped the vehicle on the ramp. During the course of the traffic stop, a handgun was discovered inside the vehicle, as well as a suspicious-looking package on the front passenger seat.
Virginia State Police bomb technicians along with the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the scene to investigate the suspicious package Shortly before midnight, it was determined that the vehicle contained no explosive or suspicious device.
The driver has been taken into state police custody and charges are pending at this time. The investigation continues. The I-395 ramp will be re-opened shortly.
Update at 11:50 p.m. — The scene has been cleared and the road is being reopened.
Earlier: Authorities are investigating a suspicious package in a vehicle on Washington Boulevard, near the Pentagon.
Police have shut down both directions of Washington Boulevard between Route 110 and the far eastern end of Columbia Pike. Initial reports suggest a pickup truck had a suspicious item inside on the front seat.
“Virginia State Police are currently investigating a suspicious package discovered inside a vehicle stopped on the ramp from I-395 south to Route 27 in Arlington County,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a statement just before 11:00 p.m. “The investigation resulted from a traffic stop made by a Trooper at approximately 8:30 p.m. Monday.”
At one point a traffic camera showed what appeared to be a bomb squad robot operating at the scene.
H/t to John Antonelli
Update at 10:45 a.m. — The scene has reportedly been cleared and the closure lifted.
South Joyce Street has been closed between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike due to police activity.
Pentagon Police are investigating a suspicious package at the Navy Exchange (NEX) gas station, ARLnow.com hears.
No word yet on how long the investigation and the closure is expected to last.
Update at 12:30 p.m. — The suitcase has been determined to be safe. The scene is now clear.
Police and firefighters are on the scene of a suspicious piece of luggage, located behind the county government building (2100 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse Plaza.
The black suitcase is located in the center of a pedestrian square, near a number of shops and restaurants. The area has been blocked off while the bomb squad examines an X-ray of the package.
An Arlington County hazardous materials team has been dispatched to Fort Myer to investigate a white powder that reportedly fell out of a package mailed to the base.
The building that houses the installation’s personnel office has been evacuated while hazmat crews determine whether the substance could be harmful.
Initial reports suggest that the package contains spices mailed from a family member to someone stationed at the base.
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The substance is not harmful. The scene is being cleared.
(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Bomb disposal crews used a remote-controlled robot to neutralize a suspicious device on 17th Street in Nauck, a block away from the busy intersection of South Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive.
Explosive specialists determined that the device, which was white, cylindrical and had wires coming out of it, was a hoax, but only after they used an explosive charge to “interrupt” it.
Authorities were first notified of the device, which was placed between two cars on the side of the street, around 10:30 this morning.
The bomb squad arrived “and found what appeared to be an improvised explosive device,” according to Arlington Chief Fire Marshal Benjamin Barksdale. Authorities cordoned off the area and had dispatchers implement a “reverse 911,” which notified residents in the area about the situation and asked them to stay in their homes.
“From there we went through our normal procedures as to identifying exactly what we were dealing with… and from there neutralizing the object,” Barksdale said. Arlington first responders were joined by resources from neighboring jurisdictions, he said.
Barksdale said the last such bomb scare in Arlington happened 3-4 months ago in Crystal City, when a suspicious package was found and neutralized using the same procedures. That device also turned out to be a hoax.
Investigators will now focus on determining who might have been responsible for the device.
“We’ll be talking to people who live on the street to see if they saw anything suspicious, any individuals who don’t live in this neighborhood,” Barksdale said.
Update at 11:12 a.m. — And just like that, the scene has been cleared. The package has been declared harmless and Columbia Pike has reopened.
Columbia Pike is being shut down near the Navy Annex as Pentagon police investigate a suspicious package at a bus stop. The bus stop is located next to a Department of Defense-run parking lot.
Arlington police will be shutting down Columbia Pike from South Joyce Street to South Orme Street. The ramps from Washington Boulevard may also be shut down.
Update at 4:50 p.m. — Townhall tells us via Twitter that the suspicious package was not in their office.
Earlier: Police have shut down streets around 1901 North Moore Street in Rosslyn due to a suspicious package in the building. The package is reportedly being x-rayed at this time.
1901 North Moore houses several conservative media outlets, including Townhall.com, Salem Radio Network News and religious broadcaster WAVA-FM.
Workers standing outside the fire line tape set up outside said the suspicious package was located on the seventh floor, which houses the offices of Townhall.com, among other businesses. However, when reached on the phone after police were first dispatched to the scene, a Townhall.com employee said she was not aware of the situation.
The Rosslyn Circulator bus stop is located behind the fire tape. We’re trying to find out where the buses are being rerouted to.
The Roosevelt Bridge was blocked in both directions last night as D.C. police and Arlington firefighters investigated a suspicious package on the Virginia side of the span.
Authorities shut down the heavily-traveled thoroughfare around 7:30. The all-clear was given around 8:15.
The large backups that formed as a result of the closure cleared quickly once the bridge was re-opened.
A phoned-in bomb threat and a suspicious package shut down the busy Pentagon City Metro station for more than two hours Saturday evening. It happened during a period of heavy ridership, as tourists were returning to their hotels from the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
The Yellow and the Blue lines were effectively split in two during the incident, which began at 5:32 p.m. Shuttle buses were brought in to take passengers from between the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Pentagon stations during the closure. The Pentagon City station reopened at 7:40 p.m., after police swept the station and the package was deemed not harmful, Metro said.