Conspiracy Theorist Presumed Dead in Explosion During Police Standoff

Conspiracy Theorist Presumed Dead in Explosion During Police Standoff

Workers look at a home that exploded in Arlington, Virginia, on December 4 and rocked a neighborhood with a powerful blast, on December 5, 2023.  (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

A house blew up on a residential street in Arlington, Virginia during a standoff with police on Monday night. 

Police have identified the owner of the property as 56-year-old James Yoo, who had an extensive history of posting conspiratorial and anti-government screeds online, including LinkedIn. 

In one post this October, Yoo promoted the Jan. 6 “Fedsurrection” conspiracy, which claims the Capitol riot was an inside job. “THEY do not want an actual ‘coup’ against THEM so THEY rig, orchestrate and control a FAKE ‘Jan 6th’ ‘event,’ ‘riot’ and then RIG trials to set FAKE precedence in attempts to scare and control the People’s minds,” Yoo wrote. 

In a press conference Tuesday, Arlington Police Chief Andy Penn said that they dispatched officers to the property, which is a duplex, around 4:45 p.m. after receiving reports of a possible shooter there. Upon investigation, they found that the suspect had fired a flare gun from inside more than 30 times. The other residents of the duplex and neighbors were evacuated. 

Penn said officers attempted to engage with Yoo, but he would not cooperate. Officers then obtained a search warrant, which they initially attempted to execute by informing him over loudspeakers and over the phone. Their emergency response team then breached the front door of the property, and encountered gunfire “from a firearm coming from within the dwelling.”

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Officers said they were unable to locate the source of the gunfire, and so deployed “non-flammable, less-lethal munitions” in areas of the residence where they thought Yoo could be hiding. 

Shortly after, at approximately 8:25 p.m., “an explosion occurred.” Video of the explosion shows the house engulfed in a massive fireball. 

Police say that the investigation into the circumstances of the explosion is ongoing. The FBI and ATF dispatched resources including bomb technicians to the scene on Monday night, and they are assisting with the investigation. 

A spokesperson for the Fire Department said that, “in anticipation of the worst”, they turned off the gas at the meter in the building. 

The extent of Yoo’s conspiracies and paranoia was laid bare in a 163-page federal lawsuit he filed in 2018 against Rochester General Hospital in New York, the local sheriff’s office, his sister and his ex-wife, in addition to others, alleging a conspiracy against him and medical malpractice stemming from his mother’s death a decade earlier. 

In the suit, Yoo claimed that his sister and now ex-wife conspired to hospitalize him against his will in 2015—and that 9/11 and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election were somehow related to that conspiracy. Yoo also claimed that New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush disguised himself as an FBI agent by “wearing a wig without facial hair” and came to interview him at his home in 2017. He details his extensive efforts to contact the DOJ and FBI about the “conspiracy.”

District Court Judge Charles J. Siragusa wrote that Yoo’s complaint was “so plainly frivolous, and its allegations are so clearly the product of delusion or fantasy, that it cannot be permitted to proceed.” 

Yoo’s LInkedIn page has been taken down, but he logged its contents via screenshots uploaded in video form on YouTube. 

He describes himself as a “former head of information and physical security for international telecommunication company” and claims he has experience working in security for CFIUS —an acronym most commonly used for the “Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,” a federal interagency group tasked with reviewing foreign investments in U.S. businesses. 

“I gave THEM/YALL every opportunity to ‘do the right thing,’ he says in his bio. “All I see is America’s hypocrisy, corruption, fraud, conspiracy, CHICKENSHAT.” Chief Penn said that authorities were aware of Yoo’s “concerning social media posts.” 

A neighbor told Fox News 5 that Yoo had been “cooped up for years,” and no one had seen him for a very long time. 

Yoo is presumed to have died in the explosion, and remains believed to be his were located inside the building. 

Police have said that there were no transports to hospital related to the incident, and three officers reported minor injuries. 

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