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Man throws 40-ounce Molotov cocktail inside Virginia mall

October 18, 2012|By Joseph Serna

Police in Virginia's Arlington County have detained a man who matches the description of a suspect who threw a 40-ounce Molotov cocktail inside a mall food court Thursday.

The man has not been arrested, say police, who are trying to sort out what happened at the Ballston Common Mall.

About 9:10 a.m., a man lit a fuse on a 40-ounce beer bottle filled with gasoline and dropped it four stories to the mall’s food court, where it shattered but failed to ignite.

“Fortunately for the people in the food court there was no explosion,” police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told the Los Angeles Times. “It did alarm a lot of people in the food court, though.”

There were three more 40-ounce bottles filled with gas on the mall’s second level, but the attacker fled instead of going down two stories to launch them, Sternbeck said. Police believe the man acted alone, and they could not immediately speculate on a motive.

Officials said the man they detained was in his 30s, but offered no other details. He was detained by officers at a subway stop several stations away from the mall after a man called police to say he saw a someone who matched the assailant’s description.

The mall was evacuated and nearby roads closed as police and the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated.

The roads and mall will be opened in the next few hours, Sternbeck said.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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