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SPD trying to identify man in Neighbours New Year’s arson investigation

1-7-2014-10-13-55-AM.png0002Last week, CHS reported that a person of interest had been identified in the New Year’s arson at Neighbours. Monday, SPD released the images as detectives seek the public’s help in identifying the man. Police are not yet calling the man a “suspect” in the crime.

Detectives Seek Public’s Assistance on Neighbours Nightclub Arson Investigation
Written byon
Detectives in the Arson/Bomb Squad are asking the public for assistance in identifying the man depicted in the images below.  Just after midnight on January 1st, 2014, a fire was set in the stairway at Neighbours Nightclub in the 1500 Block of Broadway.  There were approximately 750 patrons and staff inside at the time.

Detectives are attempting to identify the person in the photos (taken from video surveillance cameras inside the club) so that he may be interviewed.  Detectives are asking that anyone who recognizes this man contact the Arson/Bomb Squad.  Further, anyone who was present at Neighbours on New Year’s Eve and may have had contact with this manare urged to contact detectives. Also, detectives are asking people who were present in Neighbours to review any photos or video they took on New Year’s Eve to see if they may have captured any images of this man, and if they did to please contact Seattle Police Arson/Bomb Squad detectives at (206) 684-8980.

According to a person familiar with the investigation who spoke with CHS on the condition of anonymity, surveillance video shows a man jumping a rail and entering the packed club via the smoking area just before midnight. Beneath his coat, he is believed to be carrying a canister of gasoline later found at the scene. The man can be seen proceeding to the mezzanine area where he orders a glass of water. He then goes down the stairs where the fire was set before returning to the mezzanine. The man does this one more time and then fire erupts just minutes after the midnight celebration of the new year.

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.

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. Seattle Fire estimated damage at around $6,000. Neighbours was cleaned and back in business within days. We’re told club management will build a new wall and move the Neighbours entrance to Broadway to help restrict access.

UPDATE 1/17/2014 7:45 PM: Neighbours has posted the video the SPD’s images were taken from. They show the suspicious man moving through the club as revelers dance and ring in 2014.

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20 thoughts on “SPD trying to identify man in Neighbours New Year’s arson investigation

  1. Can someone please explain how we can watch hi-def movies on our phones, yet expensive security cam footage always looks like its been wrapped in gauze?

    • Your phone records a few minutes of videos, security systems are recording for hundreds of hours, multiplied by every camera on the system (thousands of hours), with the cameras operating in low/poor levels of light. There are other reasons, but those are some important ones.

  2. What the heck took so long to release this footage?

    Maybe they didn’t release it because the alleged arsonist appears to be middle-eastern. There should be an investigation into why the police department has been sitting on this. I have a feeling it goes all the way up to the Mayor’s office.

    Why isn’t The FBI, ATF, and Homeland Security investigating this case? Would be interesting to know if they offered assistance in this case.

    One would think they wouldn’t want a dangerous arsonist on the streets free to strike again.

    • Police don’t typically release security footage until after they’ve exhausted their own resources searching for a suspect. Why?

      1) The suspect knows he’s on camera and may flee.
      2) Loads of bad tips and false accusations are bound to fly (see: you calling the man Middle Eastern- which he may or may not be. It’s too difficult to tell)

      • That’s simply not true. Effective police departments routinely release security footage quickly after a high profile event. If the goal is soliciting the public’s help, it’s best to strike while the iron is hot and Police typically release footage while the news and other media is talking about the case.

        Examples: NYC releases the security footage of an East Village rape suspect today. The rape occurred on Monday.

        Think about the Boston bombing. The public was key in collecting footage and in making sure the suspects had nowhere to hide. Those images were released within 48 hours.

        I guess you don’t believe in Amber alerts either.

        Also your comment about fleeing suspects is not true. It’s actually easier to flee while the police are sitting on the video. It’s much harder to flee unnoticed when people aren’t on the lookout.

        It’s pretty clear that the Seattle Police are just as incompetent as ever. It also seems like they’re being politically correct now as well with an assist from the new Mayor who won’t even call this crime a terrorist attack or at least a hate crime. It would have been better to release the video and get public officials talking about the possibility of a hate crime or terrorist attack.

        It would have smoked him out and the suspect would likely already be in custody. If they’re wrong and it turns out to not be a hate crime or terrorist attack…oh well. the suspect would still be in custody.

      • First of all, this is only a person of interest – if he happened to be in the area when the fire happened, he could very well have been the patron that helped put the fire out shortly after it started. Or he could l be a suspect or the culprit, but we don’t know, do we?

        Secondly, yeah, images from the boston marathon were quickly released to the public – and the public launched a witch hunt against innocent people. I think you cite good reasons why it can help getting footage out to the public sooner, but I wonder if it’s snap-judgment folks like you that keep them from doing so.

    • Look dude we all want this guy caught. Spreading false accusation and racism is not the way. YOU PERSONALY CAN NOT tell hes middle eastern from these photos. stop spreading paranoia

  3. Thank you for posting this. It provides a lot of information for anyone that might recognize the fellow.

    Gotta say this too, it’s also pretty chilling. I had been wondering where the guys coat was [not visible in stills] but this footage shows what I THINK is his coat over the gas container? He also seems friendly with a couple people? Just a guess, but betting this was more than one guy that did this.

    And if you’re that guy and reading this? Again, please, turn yourself in. You need help.

    Thanks again, CHS.

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