A firefighter stands in front of the Jan. 14 blaze that has significantly damaged the Islamic Center of the Eastside. Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Fire Department

Man pleads guilty to ‘reckless burning’ of Bellevue’s Islamic Center of the Eastside

A homeless man charged with burning down the Eastside’s largest mosque pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless burning on Sept. 15.

King County prosecutors initially charged Isaac Wayne Wilson, 37, with second-degree arson. He’s been held on $1 million bail since Bellevue police arrested him Jan. 14 for his part in a fire that caused significant damage to the Islamic Center of the Eastside, 14700 Main St.

In his guilty plea, Wilson states he recklessly caused damage to a building owned by the Islamic Center of the Eastside by knowingly causing a fire.

Wilson will be sentenced on Friday, Oct. 13 in King County Superior Court. A standard sentencing range for first-degree reckless burning is between 3-8 months with a maximum term of 5 years and a $10,000 fine.

On the night of the fire, a resident of Summerfield Apartments called 911 to report the center was up in flames. A Bellevue police officer at the scene and saw a man lying on the ground about 100 feet from the building. When he approached him, the man, later determined to be Wilson, told the officer, “I did it.”

When the officer questioned if he was the one who lit the fire, Wilson mumbled to himself, and stared at the fire.

After learning Wilson had a Seattle warrant out for his arrest, Bellevue police took him into custody. Officers later smelled gasoline on his clothing and shoes, which became evidence.

Whilst in jail, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, the Bellevue Fire Department and Bellevue police conducted an investigation that determined the fire was started by arson. Investigators located a gas can, a water jug and video surveillance, all pointing to Wilson as the suspect.

In a review of Wilson’s criminal history, prosecutors learned he was convicted of fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct in 2016 for an assault on a member of the Islamic Center for the Eastside.

In a December run-in with police, Wilson told officers he had schizophrenia. In the past, members of the Eastside Islamic community tried to help Wilson and pay for his medications because he couldn’t, as he was homeless.

“The impacts of this crime have left the largest mosque community on the Eastside without a house of worship for its many members,” court documents state. “So, this alleged arson is not his first offense by this defendant against the mosque he targeted in this case, and has had devastating impacts on the community.”

Following the fire, around 500 Bellevue residents filled Sammamish High School’s auditorium to learn about how they could help the Islamic Center of the Eastside rebuild.

This Thursday, Sept. 21, the center will hold their monthly meeting to discuss a construction project to rebuild the mosque. The meeting will focus on the floor plan layouts and will seek feedback from the community.

For more information on the Islamic Center of the Eastside, visit www.eastsidemosque.com.

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