87°Partly Cloudy

UPDATED: Ballston Mall Molotov Cocktail Suspect Charged

by ARLnow.com October 19, 2012 at 10:50 am 12,615 88 Comments

Arlington County Police have filed charges against the suspect in yesterday’s attempted fire bombing of the Ballston Common Mall food court.

Leon A. Traille, Jr., 29, of no fixed address, has been charged with reckless endangerment, attempted malicious bodily injury by use of fire, and use of a fire bomb.

Traille is due in Arlington County Court this morning for a preliminary hearing. Traille is still being interviewed by federal investigators, but Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said he has so far not been very cooperative. Federal charges, which may supersede the local charges, have also been filed (see below).

Sternbeck said the crime Traille is accused of — tossing a glass bottle, with a lit wick and containing a flammable liquid, into the mall food court — was likely not an act of terrorism.

“Right now we don’t believe it’s an act of terrorism,” he said. “It’s more like it’s an act of stupidity.”

The LinkedIn account for an individual with the same name and age as Traille says he’s a computer programmer who has been out of work since Aug. 2011. According to public records, Traille has previously lived in Georgia and Oregon. A public records search turned up no prior criminal history.

Update at 12:35 p.m. — Traille is being now facing a federal arson charge, which carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison if he’s convicted. The U.S. Attorney’s office has released the criminal complaint against Traille and issued the following press release.

Leon Alphans Traille Jr., 29, has been charged with committing arson for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail into the food court area of the Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, Va.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Richard W. Marianos, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington Chief of Police, made the announcement.

Traille was taken into custody on Oct. 18, 2012, and was charged through a federal criminal complaint this morning with arson, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted. He will make an initial appearance at 2 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan in Alexandria federal court.

According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, a man possessing a distinctive gray and red backpack threw a lit improvised explosive device, sometimes called a Molotov cocktail, into the food court area of Ballston Common Mall in Arlington. The device – a brown glass bottle fixed with matches – did not explode, but it produced a flame that was extinguished. After throwing the device, the man proceeded to the second floor skyway area of the shopping mall and dropped a bag containing three additional Molotov cocktails before exiting the mall.

The complaint alleges that witnesses who saw the man throwing the device provided law enforcement with a description matching that of Traille, and a video surveillance system allegedly caught a picture of Traille as he exited the shopping mall. He was apprehended yesterday afternoon in a public area nearby the mall in possession of the gray and red bag.

This case was investigated by the ATF’s Washington Field Division, FBI’s Washington Field Office, and the Arlington Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia’s National Security and International Crime Unit.

Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

  • Ralph

    A mugshot? Really?


  • Leeway Heights

    We are calling this a fire bombing? Really?

    • jackson

      “…charged with reckless endangerment, attempted malicious bodily injury by use of fire, and use of a fire bomb.”
      Use of a fire bomb charge would mean firebombing, no?

  • KalashniKEV

    No fixed address?

    How can we fix this???

    • drax

      Enough, Kev.

      • KalashniKEV

        It seems to be a recurring problem though… how can we fix it?

        How much of my money do they need to provide these people with a joyful life within close proximity a metro station? How wonderful can we make it that they will stop attacking us?

        I’m truly concerned…

    • bman

      he’s going to have a fixed address at the federal pen!

  • Wyatt Cenac

    Thats me!

    • @Wyatt

      Now that’s funny!

    • Brandon

      When I saw the arrest video I thought he looked just like you!

  • b-money

    “of no fixed address”

    • AA

      He will have one now .. even in Courthouse or in Federal prison. That meal that found him eating will be his last good one for a while

      • Geezer

        That was in Courthose plaza….prison food will be an improvement

        • AA

          supposedly he was eating cheescake factory, heard that on media report

        • Hurley

          Wed night chicken nights in the County jail are pretty good.

        • Deadite

          Actually, there are a number of great eateries in that plaza. V5 is the only atrocity there. Nice attempt at the humor thing, though.

      • KalashniKEV

        …and after a brief stay in the Gray Bar Hotel we can move him into a luxury condo in the Views at Clarendon and get him some counseling.

        • Jim Moron


          Falls Church is also seeking to expand its affordable housing, so that could be an opportunity for him. Because, as you know, everybody deserves an opportunity to live in the wealthiest towns in America.

          • jackson

            When people refuse to commute ab hour to work jobs serving overpriced coffee, don’t be surprised when said coffee price doubles.

          • KalashniKEV


            Should the People’s Republic of Arlington discriminate against someone in Need simply because they have a pre-existing condition… like a past history of violent felonies?

            This gentleman needs our help- to turn him away to Fairfax simply because he’s been Tossing Mollies at the Mall would mean that our money isn’t as good as theirs when it comes to preventing such travesties of “social justice” as “taking responsibility for yourself.”

            We must endeavor to disprove the lifelong axiom of, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

  • Gilmer


    • KalashniKEV

      National Firearms Act?

      Oh, wait… now I get it…

    • S. Arlington

      More like NWA

      • drax


        Don’t hold back, guys.

      • Ric Flair

        He would never hack it in the NWA. Woooooooo…..

      • SHLady


      • JJ

        Straight outta Ballston

        • KalashniKEV

          Comment of the Day Award!

          • SomeGuy

            Nah. See the “zing” from levity below, KEV.

        • S. Arlington

          good one. . where’s Remy when we need him

  • JohnB2

    He didn’t quite get the brofile down correctly, he needs a little more lean. Let’s get Trev over there to help out!

    BTW ArlNow: this “you are posting comments too quickly” error message is BS. I’ve only posted one other comment this morning.

    • @Wyatt

      Agreed. I’ve never posted before….

    • ccres

      may be time to switch to Disqus comments. could lighten the load on the db dramatically

    • JamesE

      Put him in the same cell as Trevor, record TV show.

      • Tre

        Traille & Trev

    • This is a known issue that our technician is working to solve.

      • Fixed.

        • levity

          Unlike Leon’s address


          • SomeGuy

            Well done!

    • But…..

      I think that was a “generic message” when the server got over loaded yesterday.

      When the server is in an “error state” it does not really know what the “right message” is by definition.

  • RonB

    What would you term the act of throwing a molotov cocktail into an occupied space other than an attempted fire bombing?

    • Thes

      Google “Molitov cocktail idiot” and you will see the number of hits.

    • Deadite

      This was the Ballston Mall, therefore it was an unoccupied space.

  • nom de guerre

    Brofile™ Cam

  • BoredHouseWife


  • speonjosh

    Points to those making the no fixed address prediction yesterday.

    Also to those who pooh-poohed the idea of terrorism.

    • Glebe Roader

      Same comment as yesterday: Mentally disturbed bum.

  • Mike Honcho

    Started with the Ballston Metro escalator, and ended with the Ballston Mall. What’s next? Set the County on fire? Better provide this fire bug with a permanent addres for 1-5 years. Then he’ll move to Alexandria, and start all over.

  • CW

    This Sternbeck guy is awesome. “Act of stupidity” would be a good newspaper headline for this.

  • Ashton Heights

    Let’s build a homeless shelter so confused bums from Georgia can come here to harass and firebomb us. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Map2thousn1

    So I just checked out his twitter account…the guy only follows fast food chains…4 of which are located in the Ballston Mall Food Court (including Chick-fil-a)…lol.

    KFC is the only one that follows him back so maybe he was bitter towards chick-fil-a….

    • Map2thousn1

      They also failed to mention his psychotic facebook account!! 🙂

      • Here’s the link to his Facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/leon.traille

        • Map2thousn1

          If you read his posts…he definitely had issues. He had a brief stint in NYC as well.

        • MaydayMalone

          Although, if you ever saw Highlander, you’d have to agree that Christopher Lambert is kind of a badass.

          • Map2thousn1

            hahaha…I haven’t, and I was wondering who that was and was going to google. Definitely checking it out! haha

        • Joey2W

          If his linkedIn page is correct, this is all just kind of sad. Good education, good jobs, smart guy whose mind just failed him.

          • Tabs


        • Right of Center

          Friends (2)

  • jackson

    LinkedIn. Not your stereotype homeless, huh? A Leon Traille from Atlanta also has an Amazon wishlist with a lot of computer programming books on it. Has to be the same guy.

    • Thes

      Not stereotypical, true. But perhaps just plain typical. Reminds me of another smart guy I knew that developed serious mental illness involving anti-government paranoia and wound up on streets. Very sad.

      • CW

        I was about to say. Genius and madness tend to cohabitate a very delicate gray area. Most computer science folks I know border on crazy to begin with.

  • MaydayMalone

    I was watching CNN and a spokesman for the Obama administration just confirmed that this was not an act of terrorism and that Mr. Traille was just protesting that Gangnam Style video on YouTube.

    • Candy Crowley

      Go to the transcript. If Obama said a variation of “act of terror” within 36 hours of mentioning this incident, he was in fact labeling this an act of terrorism.

  • Alex

    This guy is probably mentally ill.

  • b-money

    The LinkedIn is very interesting. He had several very short stints with reputable companies. So he had an impressive enough resume to get the job, but clearly couldn’t keep any.

  • TuesdaysChild

    Indeed the homeless do move around between states. Once the county builds the homeless shelter in Courthouse, other homeless will come and stay in the county.

  • kevin w

    well this is a nother way to see what has been here and whats to come, this place (American) is a melting pot for this to happen now. the times has change people places and things and how people treat each other, (GOD) said treat each other as Human beings and that is not happening, some of these so called heman beings are of god but the hart is not of the some thing, that has no love for being a part of the (species) of this earth. I have more but this has to be short.

    • Dr Seuss

      All excellent points. Ur the b3st.

  • Ren

    Why was it a federal charge? Wasn’t it committed in Virginia territory? Generally curious…anyone know? (I haven’t ‘read any of TFAs’ about the attack).

    • UptonHiller

      The FBI has concurrent jurisdiction and fairly broad powers to exercise it. And since ATF was brought in to help with the flammables it seems likely the feds would make the first case.

    • JohnB2

      Maybe also because at one point it was considered possible terrorism. That and the USCG is in the attached building?

    • speonjosh

      I believe there are federal laws which apply no matter what state you are in.

    • Ren

      I law geeked and looked it up after all…kind of interesting…looks like the Federal Arson Statute can justify a charge through the Commerce Clause, which would fit a mall to a T.

      @Josh – you are also correct in the case of arson. Of no surprise, there is also a Virginia statute which criminalizes arson, but it looks like the Federal charge would be ‘better’ to a prosecutor.

      • JohnB2

        I looked it up too and it seems fishy because it specifically refers to interstate and international commerce. I don’t think a shopping mall fits into those categories. Here is the section referred to in the criminal complaint:

        “(i) Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both; […]”

        • JohnB

          All it takes is one resident of DC/MD to hop on the metro and buy something at the mall and it’s now interstate commerce.

          • UptonHiller

            The gasoline he used was almost certainly refined in another state.

  • Roquer

    Just another F-ing NUT in Arlington! I swear they outnumber the rest of us by about 8 to 1.

    • speonjosh

      You might want to get out a bit more. Arlington is fairly sleepy by the standards of many other locations.

  • db cooper

    he is another victim of circumcision, which really messes up a man’s sense of individuality and overall sanity. look at all the terrorists, they are all circumcised because they are all muslim. circumcision makes men seek war

    • Map2thousn1

      Please tell me you’re joking with that comment…lol.

      For the record, I believe he is Jamaican…not sure what their views are on circumcision…

      Jamaican me crazy maan!

  • T

    So if I read the compliant correctly it sounds like this was a “dry” Molotov Cocktail, since it was only filled with matches. Luckily for the people who were in the mall at the time that doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.

  • HughJassPhD

    I wonder what movie on You Tube spawned this?

    • JohnB

      I’m guessing it was the radio broadcast in his head.

  • Alex

    The snail’s pace of change in Ballston the last 30 years is shocking and frankly boring. Crime problems from the 80s are still there in force and weirder than ever, ugly buildings abound like the Mall, buildings in planning for 20 or 30 years are in some case just recently built and in others still rotting in a drawer somewhere. So much bragging and for what? That’s boring.

  • QuangTri1967

    Looks like he was puffin on some whale.

  • SCK

    Disagree…..Im originally from Phila, and lived in Atlantic City for the past 10 years, recently moved to Arlington….there is DEFINITELY more of a homeless issue here then in Atlantic city, and Philadelphia. Up north, they’re just not on the street as they are down here. It’s a terrible shame.


Subscribe to our mailing list