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Man who lived in northern Virginia home that exploded in massive fireball presumed dead

Police were on scene executing a search warrant after a suspect fired a flare gun 30 to 40 times before the explosion, authorities had said.
/ Source: TODAY

A home in Virginia exploded Monday evening as police attempted to serve a search warrant at the residence, causing a massive ball of flames to rock a quiet suburb of Washington, D.C.

Police said Tuesday they believe the resident of the home is presumed dead and is the "involved suspect," based on the preliminary investigation.

Videos showed the house in Arlington getting blown to pieces as a huge fireball threw the roof and other debris into the air. Neighbors said they heard the blast from blocks away.

"I was laying in my bed and then just it felt like we got attacked," neighbor Sarah Wilhoite said on TODAY.

The incident began when officers responded to a report of shots being fired in the neighborhood at around 4:45 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department said in a statement Tuesday morning.

A preliminary investigation found a suspect had fired a flare gun about 30 to 40 times from the residence into the surrounding neighborhood, according to police.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the home, and while trying to execute the warrant, the suspect fired several rounds from what police said was a firearm, according to the statement.

"The house subsequently exploded" around 8:25 p.m., Arlington County Police spokesperson Ashley Savage said during a press conference, and the fire was under control by about 10:30 p.m.

Three officers reported minor injuries, police said.

The cause of the blast is under investigation, authorities said in the statement.

On Tuesday afternoon, Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn told reporters they believed the suspect was the resident of the home: James Yoo, 56, of Arlington, Virginia.

Penn said Yoo is "presumed, at this point, to be deceased" following the explosion.

"Human remains have been located at the scene," he said.

Penn said Yoo had allegedly made "concerning social media posts" that investigators were aware of.

Dave Sundberg, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said Yoo had "previously communicated with the FBI via phone calls, online tips and letters over a number of years."

"I would characterize these communications as primarily complaints about alleged frauds he believed were perpetrated against him," Sundberg said. "The nature of those communications did not lead to the FBI opening any investigations."