A 19-year-old Arkansas man arrested in Arlington National Cemetery on Monday is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday to face charges related to an alleged attempt to blow up a service member’s car in the Pentagon parking lot.
Matthew Dmitri Richardson told a Pentagon police officer who approached him Monday morning after some suspicious behavior that he intended to blow up the vehicle and himself, according to a Tuesday Justice Department release.
“I was just trying to blow myself up," Richardson told officers upon his arrest, according to court documents.
Just before 11 a.m. Monday, a Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer on patrol in the building’s north parking lot saw smoke rising from a burned piece of fabric on the ground next to a Land Rover, according to an affidavit.
“I also observed an individual, whom I later identified as Richardson, standing next to the vehicle striking a cigarette lighter to a piece of fabric that was inserted into the vehicle’s gas tank,” the officer wrote.
The officer tried to grab Richardson by the wrist, but he took off running toward a nearby highway. Surveillance video showed him hopping a fence into Arlington National Cemetery, where he was tracked down and arrested at 12:15 p.m.
The vehicle’s owner did not know Richardson, he wrote.
“Richardson is charged with maliciously attempting to damage and destroy by means of fire, a vehicle used in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce,” the release said. “If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.”
Officers found a cigarette lighter and gloves in Richardson’s car, according to the affadavit, as well as court documents related to a Saturday arrest for two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer in Arlington County, Virginia.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.