The suspect in a series of shootings at military targets likely acted alone, a criminal profiler told NBC Washington Thursday.
Yonathan Melaku’s October and November overnight shootings of the Marine Corps Museum, the Pentagon and two recruiting stations were intended to shut the targets down, authorities said. Melaku was charged Thursday. He was developed as a suspect after he was detained for trespassing Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I believe this man is a homegrown terrorist because I don’t believe he’s part of a major group that put him out there,” criminal profiler and anti-terrorism trainer Pat Brown said. “He’s looking for something to do. He’s looking to make a name for himself, to make people frightened, to see how much power he has.”
Authorities said they found a video of one of the shootings in Melaku’s home. After firing several shots, he can be heard exclaiming “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great” in Arabic – according to the Department of Justice.
“This is something he’s going to fantasize about later,” Brown said. “He can go home and he can watch himself doing it and feel the excitement of dong it. It’s his little memory book, essentially.”
In October, authorities said they believed the shooter was a current of former Marine. Melaku, 22, was a Marine reservist but had never been deployed overseas.
“Tests for unstableness are done before the troops are deployed,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Chris Hughes said regarding Melaku’s mental health.
Melaku was assigned to driving trucks and operating equipment.
“The fact that this man is a Marine means that he’s angry at something that’s going on,” Brown said. “Maybe he didn’t get the promotion he wanted. Maybe he’s not getting the respect he wants. He’s trying to get back at someone, his own employer. It’s like going postal but he’s added terrorism to it because that makes him feel better about himself, like he’s doing something valid in the world.”
Brown said she believes Melaku is a psychopath. Profilers say psychopaths are often "losers" who frighten people in an effort to show they have power. She said it's good Melaku was caught because given more time, he could have become more violent and more dangerous.
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