Accused Pentagon Shooter Yonathan Melaku Pleads Guilty

Accused of series of NoVa shootings

An ex-Marine from Virginia, accused of firing shots at the Pentagon, the Marine Corps museum in Quantico and other military-related targets, pleaded guilty in court Thursday.
Yonathan Melaku, age 24, of Alexandria, pleaded guilty to injuring property of the United States, use of a firearm during a crime of violence, and attempted injury to veterans' memorials on U.S. property.

Prosecutors charged Melaku last year, saying they have evidence linking him to a series of overnight shootings in 2010 at a number of military buildings in northern Virginia. No one was injured.  Part of the case against Melaku was a video he recorded of himself during the second Marine museum shooting.

Melaku can be seen firing a handgun out of the passenger side window at the museum in the video.  He can be heard saying in the recording, ""That's a military building, and that's the building I'm going to be targeting. ... Last time I hit them, they turned off the lights for like four or five days."

He wears a mask in part of the recording, and then later takes it off to reveal his face.

After pulling the trigger several times, prosecutors said Melaku can be heard saying, "Allahu Akbar" repeatedly.

He admitted to five separate shootings from October to November of 2010: two at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, at the Pentagon, a Chantilly recruiting station, and a U.S. recruiting station in Woodbridge.
Under the terms of the agreement, Melaku would serve 25 years in prison.
Melaku was arrested in June when he was spotted after dark in Arlington National Cemetery with a backpack containing potential explosives material and notations referring to jihad and Osama bin Laden. That arrest set off a security scare around the Pentagon.

In court Thursday, Melaku's lawyer expressed his family's wish that the ex-Marine undergo a psychological evaluation.  The attorney said Melaku's family thinks he could have anger management issues that might be resolved if he received therapy while incarcerated.

The sentencing hearing is set for April 27.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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