Police identified the suspect inside an Arlington, Virginia, home that exploded Monday while police were executing a search warrant as resident James Yoo, 56, and said they are investigating “concerning” posts he allegedly made on social media.
Yoo is presumed to be dead, Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn said.
“Human remains have been located at the scene. The office of the Chief Medical Examiner will work to positively identify the individual and cause and manner of death,” Penn told reporters at a Tuesday news conference.
Authorities said in the news conference they are investigating the cause and origin of the explosion.
There is no ongoing threat to the nearby community, the police chief said, adding this will be a thorough and extensive probe and authorities will also look into “concerning social media posts” allegedly made by the suspect.
Yoo listed his address in multiple LinkedIn posts, which are filled with rambling and at times incoherent conspiracy theories against government officials, law enforcement, media outlets and, in one post from Friday, his neighbors who he accused of being spies and collecting his information for unnamed handlers.
The FBI is assisting in the investigation into the explosion and the suspect, said David Sundberg, assistant director in charge of the agency’s Washington, DC, field office.
Yoo had previously communicated with the FBI through phone calls, online tips and letters “over a number of years,” Sundberg said.
“I would characterize these communications as primarily complaints about alleged frauds he believed were perpetrated against him,” he added. The information the suspect shared and his communications with the agency did not lead the FBI to open any investigations, Sundberg said.
What we know about the explosion
The blast destroyed the home as law enforcement were trying to make contact with the suspect inside.
Authorities believe the man had been firing a flare gun from his home earlier in the day, Arlington County Police Department spokesperson Ashley Savage said. The explosion prompted the evacuation of several nearby houses, officials said.
Officers responded to reports of shots fired near the home in the 800 block of N. Burlington Street shortly before 5 p.m., according to a police statement released early Tuesday.
Further investigation revealed the suspect had discharged a “flare-type” gun from the home more than 30 times, Penn said during Tuesday’s news conference.
“During the course of the investigation, officers obtained a search warrant for the suspect’s residence and attempted to make contact with the suspect over the telephone and through loudspeakers. The suspect did not respond and remained barricaded inside the residence,” the police statement said.
“Much of our effort was to engage him in communication and have a conversation to try and bring this to a very peaceful and voluntary solution, but the communications were not successful and he was not particularly cooperative when communicating,” Penn said Tuesday.
As officers tried to execute the warrant, the suspect fired several rounds, from what is believed to have been a firearm, inside the home.
Officers continued to try and engage with the suspect and bring him into custody but could not locate the source of the suspected gunfire, Penn said. They then began to deploy “non-flammable, less lethal chemical munitions to multiple areas within the residence where the suspect was believed to be hiding” to get the suspect to surrender, the chief said.
Sometime afterward, around 8:25 p.m., the home exploded, police said.
Video taken by a witness shows law enforcement vehicles surrounding a multi-story home when a fiery blast suddenly erupts, sending a plume of flames, embers and smoke into the air as debris rains down into the street. The force of the explosion blew the roof and several walls apart, causing the structure to collapse.
The police department does not have any previous documented interactions with the suspect at the address, “other than two calls for service for loud noise over the past couple of years,” the chief said.
The suspect’s home was a duplex and the other residents were evacuated before the explosion, Penn said.
“Thankfully, there were no serious injuries to any officers, other public safety officials or community members,” he said.
The blaze has since been completely extinguished, a fire official said Tuesday.
The site of the home explosion is about 5 miles from the Pentagon and other landmarks in the nation’s capital.
Virginia’s Democratic Rep. Don Beyer said he was monitoring the emergency response to a “major explosion” in the city’s Bluemont neighborhood Monday night.
“This is very, very scary, and my profound thanks go out to first responders working to secure the area and keep everyone safe,” Beyer posted on X.
A man who lives about five blocks away from the explosion told CNN affiliate WJLA that he was inside his home when the blast occurred.
“You could feel the sound concussion … It was impressive,” Bob Maynes told WJLA. “I’ve been here for 50 years, and I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
“My first thought was, ‘I want to check on the integrity of the house,’” Maynes said. “Once I figured out there was nothing wrong with my house, then my thought was, ‘Well, if there was some big explosion, do I really want to go out there?’ But there was lots of people going out there.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.
CNN’s Christina Maxouris, Melissa Alonso, Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz, Amanda Jackson, Evan Perez and Sara Smart contributed to this report.
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