30-year-old Libyan US resident Musab Mohamed Musmari has been arrested over a New Years Eve incident where 750 people were forced to flee Seattle’s Neighbours night club to escape a fire.
Musmari, who also uses the surname Masmari, was caught Saturday preparing to flee the country on a one-way ticket to Turkey.
He was carrying his Libyan passport and $342 in cash when he was arrested leaving a house in Bellevue, Seattle, after several people contacted police after seeing security camera images of the suspect in the media.
‘Numerous callers said the person looks like Musab Musmari and one caller said he was sure it was him,’ a police probable cause statement against him reads.
Musmari is a Muslim but does not appear to be very devout as he drinks alcohol and has had a girlfriend while living in the US and his landlord told King County District Court on Monday that Musmari had mentioned gay friends positively.
Rather, Musmari has a history of instability, with his former girlfriend being granted a domestic violence protection order against him in 2011.
Another woman sought a harassment protection against Musmari after she said he punched her and chased her on his bicycle in July.
Musmari had already been due to appear in a different court over an unrelated assault conviction and on obstruction charges over an incident in June.
The landlord told the court that Musmari had a problem with alcohol and held grudges against staff at multiple bars in Seattle.
Musmari reportedly put a cigarette out on a staff member’s cheek at Seattle’s Lookout bar in April last year after he was told he couldn’t smoke inside.
Musmari is accused of bringing a one gallon can of gasoline into the club and dousing a set of stairs with gas and then leaving the can with the remaining gas in it at the top of the stairs before setting the stairs alight.
However the bar was quickly evacuated and staff and two off duty military personnel who had been drinking in the bar extinguished the flames.
‘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,’ a Seattle Police statement on the arrest reads.
‘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.’