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Brief: Man Arrested for Throwing Molotov Cocktail

— Leon Alphans Traille, Jr., 29, is facing federal arson charges for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail into the food court area of the Ballston Common Mall in Arlington.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Richard W. Marianos, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington Chief of Police, made the announcement.

Traille was taken into custody on Oct. 18. The Arlington County Police Department had charged Traille, of no fixed address, with the following violations of Virginia State Code: reckless endangerment, attempted malicious bodily injury by use of fire, and use of a fire bomb.

He then was charged through a federal criminal complaint with arson, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted.

According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, a man possessing a gray and red backpack threw a lit improvised explosive device, sometimes called a Molotov cocktail, into the food court area of Ballston Common Mall in Arlington. The device — a brown glass bottle fixed with matches — did not explode, but it produced a flame that was extinguished. After throwing the device, the man proceeded to the second floor skyway area of the shopping mall and dropped a bag containing three additional Molotov cocktails before exiting the mall.

The complaint alleges that witnesses who saw the man throwing the device provided law enforcement with a description matching that of Traille, and a video surveillance system allegedly caught a picture of Traille as he exited the shopping mall. He was apprehended in a public area near the mall in possession of the gray and red bag.