Person of interest spotted in Neighbours arson surveillance

A firefighter examines the New Year's aftermath inside a sprinkler-soaked Neighbours (Image courtesy of Neighbours)

A firefighter examines the New Year’s aftermath inside a sprinkler-soaked Neighbours. Images of a man said to have been spotted sneaking into the club during its New Year’s celebration have not been released by police. (Image courtesy Neighbours)

As Capitol Hill night spots head into another weekend of business on Broadway, Pike and Pine and Neighbours prepares for a Saturday night event to celebrate its history in Seattle party culture, a person with knowledge of the investigation into the New Year’s arson fire at the dance club says a person of interest has been spotted in surveillance video and images recorded as flames erupted inside the packed disco.

According to the source who spoke with CHS on the condition of anonymity, the man can be seen entering the club just before midnight. Beneath his coat, he is believed to be carrying a canister of gasoline later found at the scene.

Detectives with the Seattle Police Arson/Bomb Squad are looking for clues to nail the perpetrator. “If you saw anything suspicious in or around the bar on New Year’s Eve, please call the SPD Arson/Bomb Squad tip line at (206) 684-8980,” a SPD spokesperson wrote following the January 1st attack. This week, a police spokesperson told CHS any images or video of a suspect would be released at the discretion of the detectives working the case. No suspect has been identified as of Thursday morning, according to SPD.

Despite the club’s long history and place in Capitol Hill gay culture, no evidence has yet been revealed that would mark the arson attempt as a hate crime. The Souther Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog did note the crime at the Seattle club and the club’s past brushes with intolerance including a 1990 pipe bomb plan thwarted by the FBI.

Newly sworn-in Mayor Ed Murray said it was too early to know if the arson was a hate crime. The incident was not mentioned during statements made by officials as Murray named his new interim Chief of Police Harry Bailey earlier this week.

Despite a call for tips and witness accounts, police have not issued a warning about possible additional fires or attacks at other area clubs and bars but a spokesperson did say that area nightspots should remain vigilant.

Police say a small red gasoline can was found at the top of the stairs where the fire originally spread before being extinguished by a quick acting patron and employee.

Meanwhile, the building’s fire sprinkler system was activated, soaking the club and forcing more than 700 revelers to flee. There were no serious injuries in the incident and Seattle Fire estimated damage to the club at around $6,000. Neighbours was cleaned up and back in business by the night of January 2nd.

This Saturday night, a “Neighbours Appreciation/NYE Redux Party” is planned for the club:

We promised you a party and that is what you are going to get! THANK YOU for all the support, it truly means the world to us. Join Aleksa Manila, Ceasar Hart, La Saveona Hunt, Atasha Manila, Jessica Paradisco and more…

We’re told club owner Moustafa Elassiouti and management plan to build a new wall outside the club and will move the Neighbours entrance to Broadway to help restrict access to the venue. In the meantime, staff and security at the club are being praised for their role in preventing a major tragedy.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

9 thoughts on “Person of interest spotted in Neighbours arson surveillance

  1. I’m wondering if the police checked the gas station across the street for the purchase of a little gas container or the filing of one an hour or so before the fire.

  2. How exactly did someone get a gas can under their coat past the bouncers? Oh, I forgot, this happened at Neighbour’s, the all time queen of crappy CapHill nightclubs. It comes as no surprise that the club failed to provide appropriate staff at the entrance. But I guess we’ll just keep calling this place an ‘institution’ and act like it’s something special. What is wrong with Seattle that we can’t open and maintain someplace hip, current and cool? Neighbour’s does the bare minimum to entertain, spends the bare minimum to provide ambience, then everyone is ‘shocked’ that this crap happens. It’s disgusting! All this being said, I do indeed hope they catch this creep ASAP.

    • I’m not overly fond of Neighbors myself, but I believe the earlier reports said the gas can was only a liter – pretty easy to smuggle in, especially in the chaos of NYE. I don’t think the staff is at fault here.

      • True enough, but don’t you think >someonesomething< suspicious? Even if the staff missed it surely at least one patron in a crowded club noticed someone with a gas can. It's hardly a common fashion accessory.

        If they haven't already I hope those who have information come forward with it… or be prepared to live with your conscience if this individual is more successful with their next arson attempt.

  3. I’m still so relieved and very thankful no one was injured. Considering what might’ve happened that’s amazing. I’m not a current patron of Neighbors, but they’ve been good neighbors to this community and the nightclub makes a lot of people happy. If I haven’t said it before, kudos to everyone who handled this awful situation professionally and safely.

    Like many other people I hope the person[s] who did this arson confesses and turns him/her self in. The security camera footage is being reviewed and will eventually finger the culprit[s] anyway, so please, no one was injured this time. Please turn yourself in.

    And dear Neighbors, I’m so sorry this happened, and I hope you’re up and running again as soon as possible,

  4. Pingback: SPD releases images of suspicious man spotted in Neighbours arson surveillance | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  5. Pingback: Tips roll in on man in Neighbours arson video but SPD says investigation continues | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle