Cops at the door: Virginia home explodes in massive blast

ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington County police have identified the man at the center of Monday night’s explosion as James Yoo, the owner of the two-story duplex. The 56-year-old is presumed dead, and human remains were found at the scene. An investigation is currently being conducted by the chief medical examiner’s office to determine what caused the death.

Yoo was the only person in the building at the time of the explosion, police chief Andy Penn said at a news conference on Tuesday. Three officers sustained minor injuries, but none required hospitalization. Neighbors in the surrounding area were evacuated prior to the explosion.

The explosion, which completely destroyed the home and shocked Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood, is still being investigated to determine its cause. Before the blast, the fire department had turned off the gas line to the house as a precautionary measure. Bomb-sniffing dogs are now on the scene to aid in the investigation.

Events leading up to the explosion began when shots were fired at a duplex, prompting police to respond. Upon arrival, they discovered that Yoo had fired more than 30 rounds from a flare gun into the neighborhood. Attempts to engage with Yoo were unsuccessful, leading to officers obtaining a search warrant. As they breached the front door, they were met with multiple gunshots fired from within the dwelling.

Prior to the explosion, officers deployed nonflammable chemical munitions in an effort to compel Yoo to surrender, but these measures were unsuccessful. Around 8:25 p.m., the house erupted into flames, causing a massive explosion.

Penn stated that Yoo had not been previously acquainted with law enforcement at the address of the now-destroyed home. However, there were two documented calls for service regarding noise complaints over the past few years. Social media posts allegedly made by Yoo are also being reviewed as part of the investigation.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office reported that Yoo had communicated with them over the years regarding alleged frauds perpetrated against him, but these communications did not lead to any investigations.

Neighbors described the explosion as a terrifying event that could be heard and felt for miles around. The blast sent debris into the air and caused damage to neighboring properties. Many residents recounted the shock and fear they experienced during the incident.

The explosion drew the attention of U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents the area, and thanked first responders for their work in securing the area and keeping everyone safe.

The Arlington County Fire Department managed to control the subsequent fire by 10:30 p.m., and crews continued to extinguish smaller spot fires throughout the night. Power outages in the area were reported, with 19 remaining as of Tuesday morning.

The investigation continues into the cause of the explosion, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisting local authorities. As of now, the incident is being treated as an isolated event, and there is no ongoing threat to the community.