Bellevue police arrest 18-year-old after mosque fire

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BELLEVUE, Wash. — Police arrested an 18-year-old Bellevue resident accused of starting a fire at a vacant mosque that’s been targeted in the past.

Investigators said they reviewed traffic camera footage near the fire which showed five people running from the mosque about four minutes before flames were seen.

Detectives identified the suspects with the help of Bellevue police school resource officers.

“After interviewing all of the individuals, the primary suspect, an 18-year-old Bellevue resident, was identified by investigators as the person believed to have started the fire,” police wrote in a news release.

Police say investigators do not believe last week’s fire was a hate crime.

The suspect was booked into King County Jail for investigation of first degree arson.

Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett told a community meeting Saturday that those involved will be brought to justice, but he said there's nothing to indicate that the blaze was started as a result of hate or bias toward the Muslim community.

Last Wednesday's fire comes after a homeless man set the mosque on fire in January 2017.

The police chief said investigators found mattresses and other trash indicating that the vacant mosque was being used. He says individuals, who may have been teenagers, were seen running from the structure minutes before smoke was reported.

Mylett said police will thoroughly investigate and will make sure the appropriate charges are pursued.

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