Arrest made in Capitol Hill nightclub arson

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

SEATTLE - Police arrested a 30-year-old man Saturday morning wanted in the Neighbours nightclub arson investigation.

Authorities said they found Musab Masmari near Seattle as he was on his way to the airport.

Police said they received tips from the public on a person of interest.

After authorities arrested Masmari, detectives interviewed him and booked him into the King County Jail for investigation of arson.

During a New Year’s Eve celebration, flames erupted on a stairwell at Neighbours nightclub in Capitol Hill. There were about 750 people inside the nightclub.

Customers got out of the building safely and no one was hurt.

Detectives with the Seattle Police Department’s Arson and Bomb Squad and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force have been investigating the case since the night of the incident.

A spokesperson for Neighbours, Shaun Knittel, said that federal agents visited the club Friday to ask questions.

Knittel said the arrest on Saturday provides relief.

“Do I think the nightclub and our guests, as well as our employees, are safer tonight than we were last night? I would say yes,” Knittel said.

Still, he has many questions about the suspect’s motive. He said the public’s interest and help in pointing him out to police shows the strength of the Capitol Hill community.

“If you’re somebody who’s a criminal, you want to start arson, look somewhere else, because this community will find you. We are watching,” Knittel said.

Former neighbors of Masmari’s told KIRO 7 he lived in a Capitol Hill apartment for about three years before he was evicted in September.

One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she lived next door and heard strange things.

“He yells random things in the middle of the night, he punches holes in the walls, and he’s crazy,” she said.

She and other residents in the building remember seeing him climbing a tree on the opposite sidewalk and throwing tree limbs down to the ground.

They also said he painted a fence red without permission.

On a Facebook page the neighbor identified as Masmari’s, there is a photo of the half-painted fence.

They also recalled an incident when he was pursued by police in a high-speed chase.

When told Masmari was arrested, this neighbor said, “Not surprised. Thank God he’s in jail.”