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Friday, June 24, 2011

CORRECTED - Marine reservist charged in U.S. military shootings

(Corrects 4th paragraph make clear authorities found list of bomb related components, rather than items themselves)
WASHINGTON, June 23 - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday charged a Marine Corps reservist with shooting at four military buildings around Washington, including the Pentagon, and also said he appeared to be trying to build a bomb.

Yonathan Melaku, 22, was charged with four counts including firing on the Pentagon and the National Museum of the Marine Corps last October. Prosecutors did not file charges related to the explosives but they could add those later.
Melaku was detained on Friday after he was seen inside Arlington National Cemetery, near the Pentagon, early in the morning when the cemetery was closed. He was found to be carrying 9-mm shell casings and small bags of a powder in his backpack.

The FBI said the powder was ammonium nitrate which can be used in homemade bombs when combined with other components. Authorities also found in Melaku's apartment a list of items that could be used for an improvised explosive device including wires, a battery and a countdown timer.

He still needed fuel and a detonating device for the bomb, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the charges.
They also discovered a video tape in his bedroom that showed him firing a handgun repeatedly at what appeared to be the Marine Corps museum from a vehicle, the affidavit said. He appeared to be driving alone, it said.

There were five shooting incidents last fall, but no one was injured in any of the shootings and there was only minor damage. They all took place either late at night or early in the morning.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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