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Marine reservist charged in 2010 military shootings

By Jim Barnett, CNN Senior Producer
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Marine reservist charged in shootings
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Additional charges could be forthcoming
  • Federal authorities charged Yonathan Melaku with four counts
  • Marine reservist is charged with willfully injuring U.S. property and using a firearm in a crime
  • Officials: Statements show "link" to shootings at Pentagon, military recruiting stations
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(CNN) -- Federal authorities on Thursday charged a Marine reservist in connection with 2010 shootings at the Pentagon and the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Although he has been charged with only two shootings so far, the criminal complaint links him to three other shootings at military recruiting stations.

Additional charges could be forthcoming, said Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to a criminal complaint, law enforcement officers searched the residence of Yonathan Melaku and found numerous documents concerning bomb-making and explosives.

Melaku was arrested last week after he was found trespassing in Arlington National Cemetery before dawn. A car he pointed authorities to set off a bomb scare near the Pentagon.

Officials said they seized a digital videotape in Melaku's bedroom desk. According to the criminal complaint, a review of the videotape showed Melaku in a car driving near what appears to be the National Museum of the Marine Corps and repeatedly firing a handgun from the vehicle out of the passenger-side window.

On the video, officials said, Melaku made numerous statements that demonstrate "a clear link" to shootings at the Pentagon and military recruiting stations.

Melaku faces two counts of "willfully injuring the property of the United States by shooting with a firearm at two separate government buildings."

He is also charged with two counts of knowingly using, carrying and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime.

The criminal complaint "alleges a pattern of violent behavior," MacBride said.

In addition to the alleged ties to the shootings, the court document also details what investigators found after Melaku was arrested.

When law enforcement officers picked up Melaku last week at Arlington, officials said they found numerous spent 9 mm shell casings and ziplock bags containing ammonium nitrate, a common component of homemade explosives.

The search of his residence in Alexandria, Virginia, turned up a typed list of batteries and other components consistent with a timer used to detonate improvised explosive devices, the court documents show.

Authorities also found a spiral notebook with numerous Arabic statements that referenced the Taliban, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, the complaint alleges.

But James McJunkin, assistant director of the FBI's Washington Field Office, would not say whether Melaku was allegedly working alone or with others.

The FBI has recovered a weapon, which is being tested, he said.

 
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