Following a month-long investigation, a suspect has been arrested in the New Year’s arson attempt at Neighbours, according to Seattle Police.
Musab Mohamed Masmari, 30, was arrested Saturday morning as police say he was on his way to the airport. Masmari, who has not been charged with the crime, was booked into King County Jail for investigation of arson, according to police.
Masmari has been a resident living near Broadway and Roy, but at a recent sentencing hearing he said he had since moved to the Eastside. His Facebook profile lists Benghazi, Libya as his hometown. He was listed as living in Lynnwood in early 2009. CHS learned Masmari has had a U.S. passport since at least 2010. Masmari has a string of assault and no contact violations in the neighborhood over the last year.
Masmari was scheduled to appear in court Monday for a hearing following his conviction and jail sentence on an assault charge stemming from an incident last summer. Municipal court officials told CHS the hearing was planned to discuss the probation office’s monitoring of Masmari while he received court-ordered mental health treatment. CHS was the only media in the courtroom in mid January when Masmari received what added up to a 30-day jail sentence. Masmari told the judge he intended to participate in a work-release program to allow him to keep his job at a gas station. He was also ordered to undergo a mental evaluation. His lawyer said he planned to appeal the decision. At the time, Masmari declined to speak with CHS under advice of his attorney. UPDATE: The Monday hearing related to the assault case will be postponed, court officials say. CHS has learned Masmari’s attorney has filed an appeal in the case. Meanwhile, a bond hearing for Masmari in the arson case is scheduled for Monday afternoon in what is likely to be a media-stuffed courtroom despite charges not having been filed yet in the case. Following Monday’s bond hearing, the court will release the initial probable cause document justifying Masmari’s incarceration. Masmari is currently held in the King County Jail.
On January 1st, a man poured gasoline over a staircase inside Neighbours and lit it on fire as the nightclub was packed with more than 700 New Year’s revelers. Detectives from SPD’s Arson/Bomb Squad, along with members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, have since been investigating the case.
Masmari’s arrest comes after a month-long investigation that had frustrated some police tipsters who suspected Masmari might be the man shown in security footage. Last month detectives released surveillance images of a man seen acting unusually inside the club as the flames broke out. SPD said the man was a person of interest in the investigation, but would not confirm his identity.
Masmari has a record of Seattle assaults and arrests that increased in frequency starting last spring. Since the January 1st incident, several business owners in the north Broadway area told CHS they have had run-ins with the man.
Last April, Masmari put a cigarette out in a man’s cheek as he entered the Lookout bar, one employee told CHS. “He was trying to come in with a cigarette, and the guy just told him he couldn’t do that, so he put it out in his cheek,” said Stevie Gayle, who was bar tending at the Lookout that night.
A fight broke out outside the bar, but Gayle said Masmari fled before the police arrived.
CHS spoke with a north Broadway business owner familiar with Masmari who said he talked with police after the pictures were released and tips began coming in to SPD’s arson and bomb squad detectives. The Broadway business owner said that he and others were forced to “86″ Masmari from their venues after run-ins in recent months.
Here’s is the report on the arrest from SPD:
Seattle Police made an arrest this morning of a 30-year-old suspect wanted for the arson at Neighbours on January 1st.
This morning, Seattle Police arrested the 30-year-old man near Seattle as he was enroute to the airport. Detectives from our Arson/Bomb Squad, working along with members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), have been investigating this case since the early morning hours of January 1st. Detectives would like to thank the public for all the tips they have received on the person of interest. Following his arrest, the suspect was interviewed by detectives and later booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Arson.