Pentagon Shooting Suspect Attempts to Escape: Sheriff

Corrections staff finds damage in Yonathan Melaku's cell

The suspect in the shootings of military buildings, including the Pentagon, damaged his holding cell in an apparent escape attempt, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Corrections staff noticed a damaged cinder block in Yonathan Melaku’s holding cell Friday. Authorities placed the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on lockdown as a precaution. There was no threat that the 23-year-old suspect was close to actually escaping the maximum security facility, according to the sheriff’s office.

Melaku was charged in June in federal court with a series of overnight shootings at a variety of targets in northern Virginia last October and November. The overnight shootings of the Marine Corps Museum, the Pentagon and two recruiting stations were intended to shut the targets down, authorities said.

He was arrested and developed as a suspect in June after police spotted him in Arlington National Cemetery after dark with a backpack that included ammonium nitrate, which can be used as a bomb-making material.

Melaku had been a Marine reservist assigned to driving trucks and operating equipment, but he was never deployed overseas. The Marines dismissed Melaku after his arrest.

In addition to charges of damaging federal property with a gun and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, Melaku now faces charges of damaging the detention center to aid escape and possession of an instrument to aid escape.

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