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Federal Charges Brought Against Ballston Mall 'Molotov Cocktail' Suspect

Leon Alphans Traille Jr., 29, will make an initial appearance at today in federal court.

The man suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail into the food court of the Ballston Common Mall has been charged with arson in federal court.

"These are arson charges," said Peter Carr, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia. "There's nothing in the court document that says 'terrorism.' "

Leon Alphans Traille Jr., 29, will make an initial appearance at 2 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan in Alexandria.

He is accused of attempting to use fire or explosives to destroy or damage property used in interstate commerce.

"This is an initial appearance. He goes in court, they tell him why he was arrested, what charges he's facing, and set up another court date,” Carr said.

If convicted, arson carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Traille wore a distinctive red and grey backpack when he threw the Molotov cocktail into the food court of the mall.

The device was described as a brown glass bottle that could hold up to 16 ounces of liquid. It had in it a cluster of wooden matches held together with white, fibrous tape, the complaint states.

Authorities have called it a "rude, crude incendiary device" with "nothing sophisticated about it whatsoever."

Traille left the mall through the second floor skyway, leaving behind a bag with three additional bottles, according to investigators. A surveillance video showed Traille leaving the mall.

He was later apprehended after a tipster called police to say they spotted a man fitting the description released by police. The complaint states that Traille was wearing a red and grey backpack when he was arrested.

Traille has also been charged by the Arlington County Police Department with reckless endangerment, attempted malicious bodily injury by use of fire, and use of fire bomb. He has no fixed address, according to police.

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