Police consider the man a person of interest in the Neighbours club arson, the second time someone has set fire to the club in less than two years.
Someone set fire to Neighbours nightclub on Capitol Hill on Friday morning, the second time in about a year and a half the gay nightclub has been targeted by an arsonist.
The fire, which burned a door in the alleyway entrance to the club, caused about $350 in damage, according to Seattle police. No one was injured.
On Saturday, police released a surveillance video of a man walking into the alley behind the club at 1509 Broadway shortly before the fire was set. The man is considered a person of interest and police ask anyone who recognizes him to call 206-684-8980.
Shaun Knittel, a spokesman for the club, said Neighbours isn’t ready to say whether the arson was a hate crime, even though historically the club has been hit by hate crimes.
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On Friday, he said he had watched video from the club’s many cameras and said the individual looked calculated as he stood around and calmly set fire to the door, Knittel said.
“It looks to me like it was very targeted,” he said.
Knittel said the man used paper to get the fire going, which melted plexiglass on the door. The sprinkler system quickly turned on, saving the club from more damage.
Knittel added the area sees a lot of petty crime and other problems, such as people defecating in the doorway. He said recently many gay men in the neighborhood have been targeted by muggings because of the perceived wealth of residents on Capitol Hill.
On New Year’s Eve 2013, Musab Mohamed Masmari poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway inside the club and set fire to it, prompting about 750 people to evacuate. Masmari was sentenced to 10 years, but claimed he had no recollection of the crime because he was drunk and had blacked out.
Nobody was injured in that incident, which caused $6,000 in damage, mostly from the sprinklers that were activated by the fire.
In 1990, three Neo-Nazis plotted to blow up Neighbours, but were thwarted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
There has been a recent uptick in reported anti-LGBTQ bias and hate crimes on Capitol Hill, the hub of Seattle’s gay community.
In response, Seattle police appointed a full-time liaison to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community for the first time in July and created a campaign against bias crimes called “Safe Place,” which labels certain businesses as LGBTQ allies, among other strategies.
A Bremerton man pleaded guilty Friday to a federal hate crime for yelling homophobic slurs and threatening three gay men with a knife on Capitol Hill in January.