Seattle police are asking for the public's help in identifying a man captured on surveillance video the night of the New Year's Eve fire at Neighbours nightclub. Detectives are trying to locate the man so they can interview him.
Just after midnight on January 1, a fire was set in the stairways at Neighbours. Around 750 people and staff were inside the club at the time, but no injuries were reported.
Shaun Knittel was at the club when the fire started. Ever since, he's been serving as the spokesperson for Neighbours. On Monday, he told KING 5 he's glad SPD is releasing these images.
"The individual, the person in question, does not move like he's joking, does not move like he's drunk or under the influence or angry at anything, but with a purpose," he said. "And the purpose was to come here and burn the club down."
Knittel says the still pictures released by police clearly show the man carrying something in his left hand.
"They're carrying something, as you can see in the photos, a jacket or a bag, obviously something that is wrapped around another item," he said.
Knittel believes that item was the gas container later found near the stairs that caught fire. When staff at the club found it, they realized how close they'd come to a potentially deadly explosion.
Knittel has seen the video from which the still images were pulled and hopes investigators soon release that as well.
"Personally, I think that video tells a more full story. What I see is video of someone that definitely needs to be brought in for questioning, like now," he said.
He says the video also shows the man entering and leaving through a door that is never used.
"This isn't someone who jumped a fence to avoid paying a cover, they were moving with purpose. They wanted to essentially hurt or kill a lot of people," he said.
Police are asking anyone who recognizes the man to contact the Seattle Police Department Arson/Bomb Squad detectives at 206-684-8980.
Detectives are also asking people who were at in Neighbours that night to review any photos or video they took on New Year's Eve to see if they have captured any images of the man. If so, they ask people to contact them.