Man Arrested by Pentagon 'Was Just Trying to Blow Myself Up,' Court Records Say

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FILE - In this June 3, 2011, file photo, the Pentagon is seen from air from Air Force One. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
FILE - In this June 3, 2011, file photo, the Pentagon is seen from air from Air Force One. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

The man police chased into Arlington National Cemetery this week after he fled the Pentagon parking lot was allegedly using a cigarette lighter in an attempt to blow up a vehicle and himself, federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Matthew Dmitri Richardson, a 19-year-old from Fayetteville, Arkansas, was allegedly seen Monday holding a lighter to a piece of fabric that was inserted into a gray Land Rover's gas tank, the Justice Department announced in a news release.

A Pentagon police officer saw smoke while patrolling the Pentagon's north parking lot. When the officer approached Richardson at about 10:55 a.m., the 19-year-old said he was going to "blow this vehicle" and "himself" up, according to court documents.

When the officer tried to grab Richardson to detain him, the man pulled away and ran. He was seen on surveillance video jumping a fence and running into Arlington National Cemetery, court documents state.

Related: Man Arrested at Arlington National Cemetery After Suspicious Behavior at Pentagon

He was later found near Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial on the cemetery grounds. When members of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency Police Emergency Response Team approached Richardson, he said, "I was just trying to blow myself up," according to court documents.

Richardson was charged with maliciously attempting to damage and destroy by means of fire a vehicle used in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce, the Justice Department announced. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 20.

The 2016 Land Rover Richardson was allegedly tampering with is owned by an active-duty service member assigned to the Pentagon. The service member does not know Richardson or have any connections to him, court documents state.

Police say they later recovered a cigarette lighter, gloves and court documents from Richardson. The court documents were related to another arrest days prior, when he was charged with two counts of felony assault on a law enforcement officer in Arlington County, Virginia, according to the Justice Department.

Richardson was scheduled to make his first federal court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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