The man accused of firing bullets at the Pentagon and other military installations in Northern Virginia pleaded guilty in federal court today.
Yonathan Melaku, 23, of Alexandria, pleaded guilty to three counts of: damaging government property, using a firearm during a crime, and attempted injury to veterans’ memorials. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have jointly asked for a 25-year sentence.
As part of the plea, Melaku admitted that on or around the early morning of Oct. 19, 2010 he fired multiple 9mm rounds at the Pentagon building. He also admitted to firing bullets at the National Museum of the Marine Corps (twice), a Marine Corps recruiting sub-station in Chantilly, and a U.S. Coast Guard recruiting office in Woodbridge. The shootings took place between Oct. 17, 2010 and Nov. 2, 2010.
Prosecutors say terrorism was the motive of the shootings. In a video, investigators say Melaku can be seen firing a handgun out of the passenger-side window of his car, then repeatedly shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
“Yonathan Melaku pled guilty to carrying out a calculated, destructive campaign to instill terror throughout our community,” U.S. Attorney MacBride said in a statement. “The video he filmed during one drive-by shooting is a chilling portrayal of his intent and the escalating danger he posed. Thanks to the FBI and their law enforcement partners, we were able to apprehend Mr. Melaku, develop the evidence that linked him to the shootings, and secure this conviction today.”
Melaku was arrested on June 17, 2011 after what’s being described as an unsuccessful attempt to vandalize the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. At about 1:30 a.m., police spotted Melaku on the property of Ft. Myer. He attempted to flee, and dropped a backpack in the process.
Prosecutors say the backpack contained “numerous spent 9mm shell casings; four bags containing ammonium nitrate, and a spiral notebook with numerous Arabic statements referencing the Taliban, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, ‘The Path to Jihad,’ as well as a list of several other individuals associated with foreign terrorist organizations.”
After he was taken into custody, Melaku admitted that he was trying to sneak into Arlington National Cemetery “to desecrate and injure the grave markers by spray-painting the markers with Arabic statements and by leaving the ammonium nitrate he was carrying at the sites of the grave markers.”
Later, prosecutors say, a list of parts for a bomb detonator was discovered in Melaku’s Alexandria home.
The FBI-led investigation received assistance from Arlington County Police, Virginia State Police, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, U.S. Park Police and other federal and local law enforcement agencies.
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Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done.
Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.
The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.
2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference
Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!
A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
Private School Fair
Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
Congressional School in Falls Church, VA is delighted to host the MONA (Mothers of North Arlington) at an upcoming Private School Fair. Private schools from around
WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and