Seattle police have arrested the man that some suspect attempted to murder over 750 gay nightclub patrons by setting fire to the packed club moments after midnight on New Year’s Eve. Via Capitol Hill Seattle:
Musab Mohamed Masmari, 30, was arrested Saturday morning as police say he was on his way to the airport. Masmari, who has not been charged with the crime, was booked into King County Jail for arson, according to police. Masmari has been a resident living near Broadway and Roy, but at a recent sentencing hearing he said he had since moved to the Eastside. His Facebook profile lists Benghazi, Libya as his hometown. He was listed as living in Lynnwood in early 2009. CHS learned Masmari has had a U.S. passport since at least 2010. Masmari is scheduled to appear in court Monday for an unrelated assault charge.
Police have not yet said if Masmari was attempting to flee the country and they have not released the destination of his flight. Masmari was identified late last month by local business owners after the police released surveillance images taken in the club on the night of the fire. Masmari has a long history of run-ins with local businesses. More from Capitol Hill Seattle:
Masmari has a record of Seattle assaults and arrests that increased in frequency starting last spring. Since the January 1st incident, several business owners in north Capitol Hill told CHS they have had run-ins with the man. Last April Masmari put a cigarette out in a man’s cheek as he entered the Lookout bar, one employee told CHS. “He was trying to come in with a cigarette, and the guy just told him he couldn’t do that, so he put it out in his cheek,” said Stevie Gayle, who was bar tending at the Lookout that night. A fight broke out outside the bar, but Gayle said Masmari fled before the police arrived. CHS spoke with a north Broadway business owner familiar with Masmari who said he talked with police after the pictures were released and tips began coming in to SPD’s arson and bomb squad detectives. The Broadway business owner said that he and others were forced to “86″ Masmari from their venues after run-ins in recent months.
With the limited information we have so far, my gut tells me that Seattle police had not yet fully built their case but were forced into today’s action when they realized that Masmari was on his way to the airport. I’ll update this post if more details become available. My previous seven reports on this story are here.
UPDATE: Here’s the press release from Seattle police.
Seattle Police made an arrest this morning of a 30-year-old suspect wanted for the arson at Neighbours on January 1st. This morning, Seattle Police arrested the 30-year-old man near Seattle as he was enroute to the airport. Detectives from our Arson/Bomb Squad, working along with members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), have been investigating this case since the early morning hours of January 1st. Detectives would like to thank the public for all the tips they have received on the person of interest. Following his arrest, the suspect was interviewed by detectives and later booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Arson.
UPDATE II: Seattle station KING 5 has a video report.