Federal prosecutors on Monday filed a criminal charge against a 28-year-old man who they say planned to run down pedestrians on the National Harbor waterfront, a popular tourist site along the Potomac River near Washington.
The man, Rondell Henry of Germantown, Md., was inspired by the terrorist group ISIS when he stole a U-Haul van from a parking garage in Alexandria, Va., on March 26, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in Maryland, which has charged him with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.
Prosecutors say he drove the van early on March 27 to Dulles International Airport, where he got out and tried, unsuccessfully, for more than two hours to find a way through security. Mr. Henry then got back in the U-Haul and drove to the National Harbor in Maryland, arriving around 10 a.m., they said.
According to the complaint, Mr. Henry, a computer engineer, walked around looked for an ideal spot for an attack. Because the crowds were too thin, he broke into a boat, according to court documents, and hid there overnight.
The next morning, police officers discovered the stolen U-Haul and arrested Mr. Henry after he leapt over a security fence from the boat dock, according to prosecutors. The authorities first identified Mr. Henry through registration records left in his BMW, which was parked in Alexandria, near where the U-Haul was stolen, they said.
Mr. Henry was reported missing after he left work around noon on March 26, and his family was concerned about his “physical and emotional welfare,” according to a public notice issued by the Montgomery County Department of Police. A spokeswoman for Hughes Network Systems, a broadband satellite company in Germantown, said that Mr. Henry had previously been employed there as an independent contractor. The company declined to provide details about his position.
Michael T. CitaraManis, a lawyer for Mr. Henry, did not immediately return a call for comment on Monday afternoon.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. in Federal District Court in Greenbelt, Md.