Police have a suspect in custody after a Molotov cocktail-type device was thrown in the Ballston Common Mall mid-day Thursday.
Around 12:10 p.m., a man dropped a 40-ounce beer bottle with a lit wick from the third floor of the mall down into the basement-level food court. The bottle shattered but didn't ignite. The man then fled the scene.
Police took a man matching the description into custody near the Court House Metro Station about 3:20 p.m. after someone reported he smelled like gasoline. A bomb technician inspected his belongings.
Authorities found three more bottles on the third floor of the mall. Both the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting local authorities in the investigation.
A hazmat team cleared the scene and said the material in the bottle wasn't hazardous.
Police are working to determine the suspect's mental state and motive. He is being interviewed by local and federal authorities, including the joint terrorism task force. There is no word on his identity yet.
Witnesses said the substance smelled like gasoline, engine oil, or home heating oil News4's Derrick Ward reports. Police said it smelled like gasoline but they had not determined what it was.
There are no reports of injuries.
The food court shut down, but mall customers weren't required to leave. However, the mall did not let in any new shoppers until about 5:30 p.m., Ward said.
Eastbound Wilson Boulevard was closed at N. Taylor Street for the investigation.
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Interior image courtesy of Brian Kalish.