Seattle mayor addresses hate crime fears after fire at gay nightclub

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

SEATTLE —

Seattle's first gay mayor addressed concerns Friday that arson at a popular Capitol Hill gay nightclub was a hate crime. 

It broke out just after midnight on Jan. 1 at Neighbours with 750 people inside.

Mayor Ed Murray was quick to point out that police have not established a motive yet, and that the suspect could be anyone from an angry customer to someone who simply wanted to light a fire and cause chaos.

"I think we have to be very careful to jump to the hate crimes level until the police and the Seattle Fire Department have had the chance to do a thorough investigation," Murray said.

Only KIRO 7 spoke with a soldier, Christopher Bostick, who was there and rushed to put out the fire.

"It's like the 'Carrie' movie where you see just fire everywhere," Bostick said. "There's no telling how many people could have died."

Seattle police said there are no signs of a hate crime at this point, but they do need the public's help. They said the chaos made it hard to talk to witnesses and they're looking for clues on camera.

"Our detectives are looking for any video," Detective Renee Witt said. "That could be video from personal cellphones or video from businesses in the area."

FBI officials said they are keeping a close eye on the case and have offered their assistance to Seattle police, but so far they are not a part of the investigation.