Yonathan Melaku, a 22-year-old Marine Reservist charged with shooting at military buildings in the D.C. region last fall, harbored no anger toward the Marine Corps, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Attorney Robert May, who is representing Melaku on an unrelated larceny charge, spoke after a Loudoun County District Court hearing in which Melaku appeared on grand larceny charges stemming from a rash of vehicle break-ins in Leesburg on May 26.
Melaku, an Alexandria resident, is also charged in federal court with shooting at five military sites across the region — including the National Museum of the Marine Corps and the Pentagon — between Oct. 16 and Nov. 2.
“I don’t believe that this was based on a grievance towards the Marines,” May said outside the courtroom. “As far as I know, he was happy with his Marine Corps service.”
In the Loudoun case, Melaku waived his right to a preliminary hearing on two felony larceny charges. May said plea negotiations with Loudoun prosecutors are in progress.
Clad in a striped jumpsuit with his ankles shackled, Melaku waved to his parents, who sat quietly in the back row of the courtroom during the hearing.
Melaku’s parents “are very supportive and they will remain very supportive”as their son faces both state and federal charges, May said.
May, who said he is not currently representing Melaku in the federal case, said that he does not believe Melaku was angry with the Marine Corps. Federal prosecutors have alleged that Melaku chose military targets because he wanted to “engage in violent activity against the military.”
Melaku remains held without bond in the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.