NPR : News

Former Marine Who Shot At The Pentagon Sentenced To 25 Years

Yonathan Melaku was sentenced to 25 years for firing weapons at the Pentagon.
Leesburg Police Department
Yonathan Melaku was sentenced to 25 years for firing weapons at the Pentagon.

Yonathan Melaku, the former Marine who admitting to shooting at several U.S. military buildings in the Washington, D.C., area in 2010, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, in a plea deal that makes his sentence non-negotiable. After his arrest, Melaku was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"At Friday's sentencing hearing, Melaku confirmed that he wanted to go forward with the plea deal, even though he was aware of a potential insanity defense," the AP reports. "He risked an 85-year sentence if he passed on the plea deal."

As Mark reported last summer, Melaku was arrested after he was found wandering around in Arlington National Cemetery in the pre-dawn darkness of a work day. He had apparently intended to spray-paint phrases onto veterans' grave markers.

One week after his arrest, investigators said that ballistics evidence led them to link Melaku with gunfire that was directed at U.S. military buildings during the summer of 2010. In those incidents, he "appeared to target the buildings themselves," NPR's Carrie Johnson reported.

Carrie added, "The gunfire erupted at night, when buildings were empty. The Marine Corps Museum was targeted twice. Two windows were shot out at the Pentagon. A Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Va., outside Washington was also targeted."

Melaku, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethiopia, had enlisted in the Marine Reserves in 2007. He was never deployed overseas.

At the time of his arrest, Melaku claimed that he was carrying explosives. FBI tests revealed that statement as a falsehood. But his backpack did contain spent bullet casings, which evidently led investigators to the earlier attacks.

As The Washington Post reported last January, Melaku admitted using his 9mm pistol to fire at the buildings — as a video he filmed in his car during one attack seemed to prove.

In addition to harming U.S. property, Melaku pleaded guilty to using a firearm during a crime, and attempting to injure U.S. veterans' memorials.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Nina McLemore's Clothes Are A 'Weapon' Of Powerful Women

Nina McLemore designs clothes for powerful women: Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Janet Yellen, Elena Kagan and others. She talks about how fashion can help women stand out in political office.
NPR

After Italy Quakes, Food World Delivers Support To Home Of Famous Pasta Dish

Amatrice was set to host the 50th celebration of pasta all'Amatriciana famously made there, but this week's earthquake devastated the town. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with food blogger Jeremy Cherfas.
NPR

Trump Promises Crackdown On Immigrants At Iowa 'Roast And Ride' Event

At Iowa freshman Sen. Joni Ernst's motorcycle ride and barbecue fundraiser, Trump didn't attend the ride, but addressed participants in a much-needed bid to draw support from influential GOP leaders.
WAMU 88.5

Want To Play Video Games Made In D.C.? Here's Your Chance.

An event called District Arcade brings together 23 locally made video games.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.