You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

2010 Pentagon shooter deemed schizophrenic

Jan. 4, 2013 - 06:48PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 4, 2013 - 06:48PM  |  
  • Filed Under

McLEAN, Va. The ex-Marine who fired shots at the Pentagon and Marine Corps museum in 2010 has been classified as schizophrenic by government doctors, but prosecutors said Friday they still want to enforce a plea deal that requires a 25-year prison sentence.

Yonathan Melaku, 25, of Alexandria pleaded guilty last year to firing shots at several military-related targets, including the Pentagon, Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, and Marine Corps and Coast Guard recruiting stations in Woodbridge and Chantilly. No one was injured, but the shootings caused more than $100,000 in damage.

He was caught months later, in June 2011, only after he was discovered trying to desecrate graves in Arlington National Cemetery. He also planned to leave bags of ammonium nitrate at the cemetery as a means to induce fear.

He struck a plea deal last year requiring a 25-year prison term, though he has still not been formally sentenced. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11.

After making the plea bargain, his family hired new attorneys who questioned Melaku's mental health.

In court filings Friday, federal prosecutors in Alexandria said Melaku has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. They want him to serve his sentence in a prison hospital or some other prison facility with inpatient psychiatric facilities.

In the filing, prosecutors say that the report from officials at the federal medical prison in Butner, N.C., identifying Melaku as schizophrenic gives no indication that Melaku is unfit to be sentenced.

It is unclear if Melaku's new defense attorney will seek to undo the plea bargain that calls for the 25-year sentence. They have not yet filed their sentencing memorandum. Prosecutors say the 25-year term is reasonable, especially considering that that Melaku could have faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 85 years.

And while the government report identifies Melaku as schizophrenic, there is no indication that it draws any conclusions about Melaku's mental health at the time of the shootings and whether he could have been considered legally insane.

Friday's court filing says that Melaku told the FBI after he was convicted that he self-radicalized after the Iraq war and engaged in the shootings to send a message that the U.S. should not engage in wars against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. He told the FBI that he stopped shooting buildings because his message was not getting through and that he planned the cemetery desecrations as a way to escalate his activity. Had he not been caught, he said he had plans to hijack a military fuel truck and set it on fire in Maryland.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

From Our Blogs


The latest from PT365

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook