A teenager has been accused of attempting to blow up an SUV outside of the Pentagon on Monday, allegedly telling officers when apprehended that he was “just trying to blow myself up.”
Matthew Richardson, 19, “maliciously” tried to “damage and destroy” a vehicle outside the government building by means of fire, according to a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday in Alexandria, Virginia.
Richardson was spotted by officer Michael Landry of the Pentagon police department around 10:55 a.m. in the Pentagon’s northern parking lot, according to the complaint, “standing next to the vehicle striking a cigarette lighter to a piece of fabric that was inserted into the vehicle’s gas tank.”
Landry approached Richardson, who allegedly told him that he was going to blow up both the gray Land Rover — which belongs to an active-duty service member currently assigned to the Pentagon — as well as himself, Landry wrote in the complaint. The service member told Landry that he did not know Richardson.
When the officer attempted to detain Richardson, the teenager ran away, jumping a fence into the Arlington National Cemetery nearby, security footage reportedly showed.
More than an hour later, around 12:15 p.m., Richardson was detained by officers, telling them, “I was just trying to blow myself up,” according to Landry.
When Richardson was apprehended, officers found on his person court documents that revealed he had been arrested just two days prior in Arlington County, Virginia for two counts of felony assault on a law enforcement officer.
Richardson is currently being held by the Arlington County Sheriff’s office, CBS News reported, and was charged with one count of maliciously attempting to damage and destroy by means of fire a vehicle used in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce, a charge which has a minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Richardson was scheduled to appear in federal court on Tuesday at 2 p.m., according to a press release from the Department of Justice. It is not immediately clear if he has an attorney.
The Arlington County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to
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