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Man charged with dropping Molotov cocktail in Virginia mall

October 20, 2012|By Joseph Serna
  • Leon Alphans Traille Jr., shown in police photo, is accused of dropping a Molotov cocktail at a mall in Virginia.
Leon Alphans Traille Jr., shown in police photo, is accused of dropping… (Arlington County Police…)

A homeless man is scheduled to appear in a Virginia federal court Monday on charges that he dropped a Molotov cocktail onto a shopping mall food court before fleeing the scene.

Leon Alphans Traille, Jr., 29, is charged with arson and faces up to five years in federal prison. Additionally, Arlington, Va., police -- who took him into custody at a subway station near the mall -- are seeking charges of reckless endangerment, attempted malicious bodily injury by use of fire and use of a fire bomb.

Just after noon Thursday, Traille Jr. allegedly dropped a 40-ounce bottle full of gasoline from the fourth level of the Ballston Common Mall. Police said he had secured a fuse to the top of the bottle and ignited it, though it did not explode on impact.

According to the federal criminal complaint, Traille Jr. had three more of the devices in a backpack he had carried to the mall. He left them behind when he fled.

With a distinctive gray and black beard, Traille Jr. was spotted not long after by a bystander, who called police.

Traille Jr. will have an attorney appointed for him next week. The Ballston Mall was temporarily evacuated after the incident Thursday but was reopened later in the day.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @josephserna

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