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Pentagon shooting suspect charged in attempted jail escape

Monday - 9/26/2011, 3:35pm  ET

Melaku.jpg
Yonathan Melaku has been charged with damaging a facility to aid escape and possession of an instrument to aid escape after he damaged a small portion of cinder block in his holding cell at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center. (AP)
WASHINGTON - The man charged with shooting at the Pentagon and a number of other military establishments last year was caught trying to damage his jail cell in order to escape.

The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office says Yonathan Melaku has been charged with damaging a facility to aid escape and possession of an instrument to aid escape after he damaged a small portion of a cinder block in his holding cell at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.

Melaku is charged with four federal counts in connection with shots fired at the Pentagon and Marine Corps Museum. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each of two counts of willfully injuring property of the United States and up to life in prison if convicted of two charges of using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Four military targets were shot at last fall, including the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle twice, along with a Coast Guard recruiting station at the Potomac Mills mall, a Marine Corps recruitment center in Chantilly and the Pentagon.

The detention center was placed on lockdown as a precaution. The sheriff's office says the public was never in any danger.

The incident remains under investigation.

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