Investigators with the Bellevue Police Department have made an arrest in their investigation into a suspicious fire that damaged a vacant Bellevue mosque on Wednesday, March 21. The Islamic Center of Eastside, located at 14700 Main St., had previously been damaged by arson on Jan. 14, 2017 and was vacant at the time of this latest fire.
As investigators began their inquiry into the fire, they reviewed traffic camera footage in the area of the fire. A camera at the intersection of 148th Avenue and Main Street had captured video of five individuals running from the mosque approximately four minutes before the fire started. After viewing this new video, and after additional follow up investigation, detectives were able to identify the individuals in the footage with assistance from Bellevue Police school resource officers who recognized the individuals. The suspects were located this past Tuesday with assistance from the Bellevue Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team, and brought to the Bellevue Police Department for questioning. After interviewing all of the individuals, the primary suspect, an 18-year-old Bellevue resident, was identified by investigators as the person believed to have started the fire. The suspect was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of first degree arson. There was no indication that the fire was a hate crime or bias-related.
The successful outcome of this investigation was the result of cooperation and coordination between the Bellevue Police Department; Bellevue Fire Department; Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Bellevue School District; Bellevue Transportation Department; Washington Department of Corrections, and members of the Islamic Center of Eastside.