The man who set fire to Capitol Hill nightclub on New Year’s Eve will spend the next 10 years in prison. From the US Attorney’s Office:
A former Bellevue resident who set fire to a Seattle nightclub just after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2014 was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to ten years in prison for arson, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. MUSAB MOHAMMED MASMARI, 30, pleaded guilty in May 2014, admitting that he smuggled a one gallon tank of gasoline into the nightclub and attempted to set the club on fire. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said, “but for the actions of some very quick thinking folks, we could have a very serious tragedy.” Judge Martinez said MASMARI deserved an exceptional sentence of ten years based on the number of people in the nightclub, that it was New Year’s Eve, the busiest night of the year, and that “it was a few seconds from causing significant injury or death.”
“The Court sent a clear message: this conduct cannot be tolerated. Motivated by ignorance and intolerance, this defendant put more than 700 lives at risk when he purposely started a fire at a crowded nightclub on New Year’s Eve,” said U.S. Attorney Durkan. “We are fortunate that the workers acted so quickly – or we may have had a horrific tragedy. I thank them for their actions and appreciate the dedicated work of the Seattle Police Department and FBI in holding this defendant accountable.”
“This important case shows the utility of a close federal-local law enforcement partnership,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “It was an exhaustive effort by federal agents and SPD, with invaluable assistance from prosecutors in each system.”
According to the facts admitted in the plea agreement, MASMARI carried a one gallon tank of gas into the club in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood around 11:30 PM on December 31, 2013. He concealed the gas tank in a shopping bag. Just after midnight, MASMARI poured some of the gasoline on a staircase in Neighbours and hid the gas container behind a planter at the top of the stairs. The container was still more than half full of gasoline. At 12:06 AM, MASMARI lit the gas he had poured on the stairs and hastily left the club. MASMARI was identified as a suspect following a review of surveillance videos. He was arrested by the Seattle Police Department and FBI on February 1, 2014 as he was preparing to travel to Sea-Tac Airport for international travel.
Because of the differences between state and federal law, federal prosecution ensured a longer sentence than was available in state court.
The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the FBI.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg and Senior Deputy King County Prosecuting Attorney Susan Storey.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.