Man Charged in Molotov Cocktail-Type Incident in Ballston Mall

Both local and federal charges, including arson and use of a fire bomb

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    News4's Derrick Ward reports on the charges the man is facing. (Published Friday, Oct. 19, 2012)

    Police have charged a suspect who was arrested Thursday after a Molotov cocktail-type device was tossed from the third floor of the Ballston Common Mall.

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

    EXCLUSIVE: Ballston Common Mall Molotov Cocktail Suspect in Custody

    [DC] EXCLUSIVE: Ballston Common Mall Molotov Cocktail Suspect in Custody
    Exclusive video of a man in custody after a Molotov cocktail was thrown inside the Ballston Common Mall. (Published Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012)

    He has also been charged with arson, a federal charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum of 20 years, if he is convicted.

    Traille was due to appear in Arlington County Court Friday morning for a preliminary hearing. He is also scheduled to appear in federal court in Alexandria at 2 p.m. Friday.

    Police say Traille dropped a 40-ounce beer bottle with a lit wick down into the basement-level food court of the mall around 12:15 p.m. Thursday. The bottle shattered but didn't ignite. No one was injured.

    Authorities found three similar bottles in a bag on the third floor.

    People who were in the mall at the time said the substance smelled like gasoline, engine oil, or home heating oil, News4's Derrick Ward reported. Traille was taken into custody about three hours later near the Court House Metro station, after someone reported he smelled like gasoline.

    Witnesses who saw the incident gave a description of the subject that matched that of Traille, and a surveillance camera apparently caught a picture of him as he left the mall, authorities said.

    Traille was interviewed by local and federal authorities, including the joint terrorism task force.

    The food court shut down following the incident, but mall customers weren't required to leave. However, the mall didn't let in any new shoppers until about 5:30 p.m., Ward said. Wilson Boulvard eastbound was shut down for several hours during the investigation.