Bellevue police arrest 18-year-old for starting second mosque fire

A traffic video led to the arrest.

Investigators with the Bellevue Police Department arrested an 18-year-old Bellevue resident they believe is responsible for a fire that damaged a Bellevue mosque on 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 looked into circumstances surrounding how the fire was started, they reviewed traffic camera footage in the area. 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 March 27 with assistance from the department’s Special Enforcement Team, and brought in for questioning.

After interviewing all of the individuals, the primary suspect, an 18-year-old from Bellevue, was identified by investigators as the person believed to have started the fire. The suspect was booked into King County jail for investigation of first-degree arson. There was no indication that the fire was a hate crime or bias-related.

The BPD, Bellevue Fire Department, FBI, 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 partnered to investigate this case.