Politics & Media
Dec 08, 2023, 06:22AM

Arlington Explosion Blows Up Headlines

Property value, tenancy issues, consipiracy theories — who knows what caused Arlington resident James Yoo to blow up his own home.

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A hilarious meme expressing Beltway schadenfreude that would’ve been “too soon” if anyone other than the culprit had been killed, appeared after Arlington, Virginia resident James Yoo may have blown himself up in his own house. Tony Brenda constructed a meme contrasting DC suburb Arlington with the DC savagery currently even denounced by the city’s incompetent Mayor, Muriel Bowser. It’s noted that DC has achieved a record number of carjackings (over 920 in 2023), but Arlington says, “Hold my beer!”

ZeroHedge this week published a variety of local Arlington social media commentators, who reported on Yoo’s left-wing conspiracy theory posts. Yoo was apparently a Russia hoax-believing, Trump-hating, Hamas-supporting fellow. This is conventional opinion for northern Virginia, though his neighbors also report he was a recluse and covered his windows inside with tin foil, so that no one could see into his house.  Having fired flares over neighboring houses and schools, the police were knocking on his door with a warrant to search his home, when the property exploded. Yoo was an alcoholic who’d been in recovery programs and had developed a belief that neighbors were spies surveilling him. When police showed up with a warrant after the flare firings, Yoo responded with gunfire and then the house blew up.

The closest elementary school, the Escuela Key bilingual magnet school, offered students counseling if they wanted it in the days after the event.

Something no one thought to look at was the real estate activity of the property, which is near the Orange and Silver lines of the region’s Metro (subway), that heads out west to Dulles Airport and wealthy areas like McLean, Vienna, and Tyson’s Corner. The property (844 N. Burlington St.) is near the Ballston Metro stop, an area where smaller properties are being torn down and replaced with 20-story luxury condos and apartment buildings.

Yoo’s two-unit property was for sale for the odd price of $546,691 for 161 days the last half of 2021, according to the Bright multiple listing system used by realtors to market their listings to each other. Yoo was court-ordered to sell the property to comply with a distribution of assets in his 2018 divorce. (Odd pricing is often the result of tax sales, short sales, foreclosures, or other court-ordered sales.)

The listing agent at the time included this information online: “*Sold As Is. No property access available due to tenant conflict and potential confrontational situation. This Property and all contracts will be subject to a tenant and/or owner in possession and Purchaser agrees to undertake all post-closing actions necessary to obtain possession from tenant and/or owner in possession. All contract terms to the contrary will be struck."

The other half of the duplex had rented in 2011-2017 for between $2000 and $2500. The same year the neighboring duplex, with an identical exterior, at 846 N. Burlington sold for $890,000. And a few months later, in early-2022, the new three-story townhouse built at the end of Yoo’s block, on a smaller lot, fetched over $1.1 million (and two others were rented for $4000 and $5000 a month).

If this is a case of tenancy laws making it difficult for small landlords (Virginia’s laws are nowhere near as anti-landlord as those in DC), it may also be a case that shows how tenancy laws encourage people to see out to developers. Yoo’s neighborhood of inexpensive-looking duplex homes already has a few torn down to make way for much more pricey-looking townhouses.

Reports are that the gas to the property had been turned off (perhaps due to failure to pay the bill). So besides whatever other problems Yoo had, bad tenants and the financial stresses they can cause may have added to them.


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