Neighbors say the man arrested Saturday in connection with the New Year’s Eve arson at Neighbours, a gay nightclub, had increasingly been a disturbance at their Capitol Hill apartment complex and had been evicted not long ago.
The man’s neighbors say the 30-year-old native of Libya, who worked as a pizza-delivery driver, had difficulty getting along with people, once decided on his own to paint his apartment building’s outside railings red, hacked off limbs from trees on the property and accosted women in the neighborhood.
The man’s Facebook postings include a poem posted in 2012 that makes an apparent reference to NATO sorties flown over Libya during the civil war in 2011.
The poem also poses the question: What defines a terrorist?
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Yet the man has never appeared to be homophobic or mentioned terrorism, the neighbors said. So his arrest in connection with the nightclub arson was unexpected.
He is expected to make a first appearance in court Monday. In the meantime, he’s being held in King County Jail without bail. The Seattle Times is not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime.
It’s the fifth time he’s been arrested since May, according to court records. Other arrests were for property destruction, being in control of a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, and assault.
On New Year’s Eve, 750 people were at Neighbours, at 1509 Broadway, when someone poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway, leaving the gas can behind, according to Seattle police.
The fire alarm was activated and all the club’s patrons were safely evacuated.
The damage to the building was estimated at $1,000 and $6,000 to the contents, mostly from the sprinklers. There were no injuries.
Seattle Police Department arson investigators worked on the case with members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and arrested the man as he was on his way to the airport, police said.
Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @BartleyNews