Suspicious Vehicle Closes Roads Around Pentagon

6:27 PM, Jun 17, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- A man is in custody in connection with the extensive road closures around the Pentagon during Friday morning's rush hour.

While police have not identified the man, sources tell 9NEWS NOW the man is 22-year-old Yonathan Melaku of Alexandria, and of Ethiopian descent.  The Marine Corps confirms Melaku is a Lance Corporal with the Marine Reserves and serves as a Motor Vehicle Operator.

At this point, the man is still in U.S. Park Police custody but has not been charged.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser says they were notified overnight by Fort Myer Police of a suspicious person who had fled from them. U.S. Park Police officers found the man in Arlington Cemetery, when the cemetery is closed, and took him into custody.

While they were questioning him, Schlosser said police thought it was necessary to look for his vehicle, described as a red 2011 Nissan.

Schlosser said Arlington County Police found the car around 5:30 a.m., and the proximity of the car to the Pentagon made it suspicious. That's when the roads in the area were closed.

Law enforcement sources tell 9NEWS NOW when Melaku was apprehended, he claimed to have ammonium nitrate in his possession. They say he did not have ammonium nitrate. He had weapon "components" but not enough to make a device.

Sources say shell casings from a 9mm semi-automatic weapon were found in his car, but there was not enough residue to create a problem.

Melaku had a notebook of handwritten notes which included the words al Qaeda and Taliban and indications he supported them, according to sources.

He appears to have an extensive criminal record in the DC-area. In Loudoun County, Melaku has four pending cases for grand larceny stemming from a rash of vehicle break-ins. He has been stopped multiple times for traffic offenses in Fairfax and Loudoun.

Federal authorities believe he acted alone and are searching his Fairfax County home.

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