Seattle police looking for arsonist after nightclub fire
SEATTLE – Police are asking for help identifying a person of interest, after someone intentionally started a fire at a Capitol Hill nightclub. They’re also trying to determine if this was a hate crime.
“It is more than a bar,” says Shawn Knittel. “For many in the LGBT community, the disco is like a church, it’s like a home, it’s family. Neighbours is family.”
That’s why he’s disappointed that Neighbours Nightclub was hit by an arsonist, for the second time in less than two years. Seattle police are trying to identify the man who was spotted on camera Friday morning just before fire was set to a door behind the club.
“I want to know why Neighbours Nightclub was targeted by this individual. You don’t want to theorize ahead of time, because it could be any number of things.”
But hate crimes have been on the rise in Capitol Hill. Many who have lived here for a long time say they’ve noticed the change.
“This neighborhood used to be positive, everyone was happy,” says Jeffrey Stuckey. “Everything did their own thing.”
Now Stuckey says he doesn’t feel comfortable being out late, because it doesn’t seem like a safe place anymore.
“Only because there is so much agitation on the street at night. And people are seeming to be offended by other people.”
Police caught the man who set fire inside the club on New Years Eve 2013. Even though no one was injured in that fire, he was sentenced to ten years.
This latest fire was set when the club was closed, and the damage has already been cleaned up. But Knittel says it’s being taken just as seriously.
“This individual when they find him is going to go to jail as well.”
He says if it is determined that the fire was set because of hate, he has a message for the arsonist.
“We’re not going anywhere. There’s nobody that’s going to burn us out, shout us out, shoot us out, any of that, we’re not going anywhere.”
Anyone with information about this incident should contact police at (206) 615-0923.