Man believed to have fired shots at officers before a Virginia house exploded is dead, police say


ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — The suspect who fired at officers from a duplex in an Arlington, Virginia, neighborhood before the home exploded on Monday night is presumed dead, according to authorities.

Fifty-six-year-old James Yoo was identified by Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn at a press conference Tuesday as the owner of the duplex and the individual whose actions brought them to the home after firing a “flare-type gun” from inside the house more than 30 times. Penn said police responded to the house at about 4:45 p.m. Monday after reports of shots fired. After attempts to communicate with Yoo were unsuccessful, police obtained a search warrant.

As officers tried to enter the home, multiple gunshots were fired from within the house, Penn said. Soon after, the house exploded, Penn said.

The officers escaped serious injury but it was unclear what happened to the suspect who was inside when the building was leveled, Arlington County, Virginia, police spokesperson Ashley Savage said.

Officers went to the home about 4:45 p.m. after receiving reports of shots fired. The preliminary investigation showed that a suspect discharged the flare gun from inside his home, but no property damage or injuries were reported, police said in a statement.

While police investigated, they obtained a search warrant for the home and tried to make contact with the suspect by telephone and loudspeakers, but he remained inside without responding, police said.

As officers tried to execute the warrant, police said the suspect discharged several rounds from what is believed to be a firearm inside the home and around 8:30 p.m. there was an explosion, shooting flames and debris into the air. An investigation into the circumstances of the explosion is ongoing, police said.

Three officers reported minor injuries in the house explosion, but no one was taken to the hospital. Savage said police don’t have any evidence that others were in the duplex but can’t rule out the possibility.

On Tuesday, officers wearing ATF jackets combed a nearby street looking through papers scattered in the debris field. Junk mail carrying the name and address of the home that exploded were visible on the street.

The White House was monitoring developments with the house explosion, a spokeswoman said.

“Our thoughts are with the police officers that were injured in that explosion,” Olivia Dalton, the White House principal deputy press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One on Tuesday. “We’re grateful to law enforcement that handled that situation very swiftly. I can tell you the ATF is assisting with the local law enforcement investigation into that matter but beyond that I would just refer you to Arlington Police Department.”

Carla Rodriguez of South Arlington said she could hear the explosion more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away and came to the scene but police kept onlookers blocks away.

“I actually thought a plane exploded,” she said.

Bob Maynes thought maybe a tree had fallen on his house when he heard the explosion.

“I was sitting in my living room watching television and the whole house shook,” Maynes said. “It wasn’t an earthquake kind of tremor, but the whole house shook.”

Arlington is located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The explosion occurred in Bluemont, a neighborhood in north Arlington where many of the homes are duplexes.

Fire officials do not know the cause of the explosion, said Capt. Nate Hiner, a spokesperson for the Arlington Fire Department.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said federal agents and federal fire investigators were at the scene and assisting in the investigation.