Northern Virginia military shootings
The Northern Virginia military shootings were several attacks by a man shooting a rifle at empty military buildings. The shots were fired in October and November 2010. Experts looked at the bullets left at the various places. They could see that all of the shots were from the same rifle.
The first shooting was aimed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia on October 16, 2010. Some bullets from a high-velocity rifle went through the atrium skylight. The second shooting happened on October 19, 2010 shortly before 5 a.m. Someone shot at the south side of The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The bullets broke windows on the third and fourth floors. Special glass stopped the bullets from entering the building. The offices behind those windows were empty because of repairs. The Pentagon Reservation was temporarily closed because the police searched the area for evidence. The building was reopened about 5:40 a.m. The Joint Terrorism Task Force is leading the investigation into the incident. In the third shooting, the same rifle shot the Marine Corps Museum again on October 29. The same rifle was used to attack a Marine Corps recruiting center in Chantilly, Virginia on October 26.
These attacks made the organizers of the October 31, 2010 Marine Corps Marathon upgrade the safety measures. The race was run without problems. On November 3, police announced that the same rifle was used to shoot at a United States Coast Guard recruiting center in Woodbridge, Virginia on late November 1 or early November 2.
The person behind the attacks remained unknown until June 17, 2011 when Yonathan Melaku was arrested. He is a 22 year old naturalized Ethiopian immigrant and Marine Corps Reserve Lance Corporal. He was found at Arlington National Cemetery while it was closed. He was carrying spent shell casings, a notebook containing references to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, and plastic bags filled with ammonium nitrate, a common component of homemade explosives. He also left his car parked in the woods near the Pentagon, police said. He had also been recently charged with breaking into 27 cars in suburban Washington. The investigation of the incident connected Melaku to the shootings. On June 23, 2011, he was charged with two counts of willfully injuring the property of the United States. If he is convicted of those charges, he could go to prison for 20 years. Melaku is also charged with two counts of using a firearm during a violent crime. If he is convicted of those charges, he could go to prison for the rest of his life. More charges are possible.
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