Why aren't Seattle police releasing gay nightclub arson video?

by: David Ham Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. —

Seattle police detectives released still images of the person of interest in the New Year's Eve fire at well-known gay nightclub Neighbours on Monday.

They don't plan on releasing the surveillance video.

"Detectives have identified this person of interest as our main focus at this point. Anything else is really not important," said Detective Renee Witt, with the Seattle Police Department.

Surveillance video captured the man walking into the club with a gasoline can. Shortly after midnight a fire broke out and 750 people rushed out of the club. No one was hurt.

Neighbours was asked not to release the surveillance video.

Club spokesperson and community activist Shaun Knittel has seen the video.

"We have to know if they're not releasing the video it's for a reason.  However...to me the video is more clear," said Knittel, of Social Outreach Seattle.

He thinks police are holding back the video because of people who don't want to be seen at a gay club.

"If you're gonna be closeted, don’t go out to the night club on the busiest nights," Knittel said.

We asked police if the video would have been released if the surveillance video came from a club that wasn't gay.

"It actually wouldn't have mattered. We just want to respect people's privacy regardless," said Witt.

Despite the grainy photos, Knittel put them on fliers, and posted them on telephone poles across Capitol Hill and handed them out to local businesses.

"Capitol Hill is a community of people that know each other so once you get the word out it actually becomes quite easy to get information up here," said Knittel.

Police are asking anyone who may have cellphone video or photos of the person of interest at Neighbours on New Year's Eve to call the Bomb/Arson Squad.