SEATTLE - -It’s been three weeks since an arsonist set fire to Neighbours nightclub in Capitol Hill. Police are now releasing more surveillance video of the suspect, in the hope that someone can help identify him.
Police say on the morning of Friday, August 7, the man started a fire next to the door of Neighbours nightclub and took off. The sprinklers came on almost immediately, so the damage was limited to the outside of the club. But police say that doesn’t matter.
“There is no such thing as a little arson and big arson,” says Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. “It’s a very dangerous offense.”
Shaun Knittel, the spokesman for the club, agrees. He’s glad the fire happened when they were closed and no employees or customers were around. But he’s worried that the suspect is still out there.
“Getting the person caught is the most important issue because you don't know if they're going to return. Was this a practice run? What's their deal, are they going to set another nightclub on fire? Are they anti-gay, are they anti-nightclub, what are they?”
Police aren’t calling this a hate crime yet.
“It’s hard to say without getting into the suspect's mind, what their motive was and what their intent was,” says Whitcomb.
But the gay nightclub has been targeted before. On New Year ’s Eve 2013, a man set fire to an inside stairwell of the club. Everyone got out safely, but that arsonist was eventually arrested. He’s now serving a 10-year sentence.
Knittel hopes this arsonist is also caught. He says it’s chilling watching the suspect stand around and smoke a cigarette, just moments before starting the fire.
“He didn't have any concern about he was being videotaped, which is really cocky.”
Police hope this new video will lead to more tips from the public. They say catching the suspect is the only way to ensure Neighbours remains a safe place in the neighborhood.
“We want to make sure people can enjoy that nightclub without any fear.”
If you have any information that could help the investigation, you’re asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.