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Friday, January 24, 2014

Neighbours Nightclub Spokesman Frustrated With SPD Investigation of Arson Case

Posted by on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 3:45 PM

People working for Neighbours nightclub became so frustrated that Seattle police discouraged them from releasing video—video that could identify a person of interest in an arson there on New Year's Eve—that last week they released the video footage to TV stations themselves. And now that The Stranger reported that police identified a person of interest as Musab Mohamad Masmari, a Neighbours spokesman wants to know why the man hasn't been detained and questioned.

"I think the police should bring him in for questioning," says Shaun Knittel, who is handling media for the Capitol Hill nightclub and is president of the gay-advocacy group Social Outreach Seattle. "I don’t understand the delay. What are they biding their time for?"

Musab Mohamed Masmari
  • Photo from Musab Mohamed Masmari's Facebook page
  • Musab Mohamed Masmari

"The community needs to feel safe," Knittel continues. "It's not just about Neighbours. If there is someone out there trying to hurt one business, then they might be willing to hurt another. This is the one guy they wanted to ID, and three weeks into this [investigation], they have a name. I don't get the game that they are playing."

The Seattle Police Department's media bureau—which has several staffers—has not answered its telephone today, nor have SPD spokespeople responded to e-mails and voice mails seeking comments.

Knittel says his frustrations with the SPD began last week. Police were pressuring the club to withhold video surveillance footage from inside the club that showed a person of interest in the case (even though police had released grainy still shots taken from that video of the man on January 13 and asked the public for help identifying him). "The photos were out but they were blurry, and people couldn't ID the person, because the photos were so bad," Knittel explains. "The next logical thing is to release the video footage." But he says SPD Arson/Bomb Squad sergeant Jim Hansen discouraged Neighbours from releasing the video because he purportedly wanted to protect privacy of people in the club, an argument that Knittel says "didn't make sense." Knittel notes the club was packed for its busiest night of the year—not a time people expect to remain anonymous.

Besides, Knittel adds, "When someone tries to burn down a club with 750 people inside it, the investigation trumps privacy. It's not in like you are in a private club." Knittel made the decision to leak the video to the media.

TV stations aired the video on January 18, two days after Masmari appeared at a sentencing hearing for an assault conviction, according to Seattle Municipal Court records. It bears mentioning that hearing was three days after January 13, when the SPD Blotter posted the photos of what appears to be Masmiri (and long after police were in possession of the clearer video), raising questions as to whether the SPD missed a chance to question Masmari.

Masmari, who has faced a few other criminal charges in the last year, is scheduled to return to court on February 18 to serve a 30 day sentence. Court records say he is currently out on work-release, but his exact whereabouts at this time are unknown.

Knittel is not alone in his frustrations. Two business owners I spoke to yesterday expressed disappointment after several people they knew had reported Masmari to investigators and never heard back from the police. Others did hear back: A woman who asked to remain anonymous told me today she called police on Tuesday to report that she believed Masmari was the man in the photos and video. Police returned her call to say they "were quite aware of Musab [Masmari] and said they have received multiple calls about him," the woman said. She adds that "the person in question does look very much like Musab [Masmari]. That doesn't mean it is him, but the police know him well, and should have the resources available to determine if it is in fact him in the video."

It is not clear that Masmari is officially a suspect. He is a person of interest in the case, according to a voice mail we received from SPD yesterday. Neither The Stranger, the SPD, or anyone named in our reporting are saying that Masmari committed this crime.

The Stranger is trying to ask the SPD several unresolved questions about the case, including: Why was Neighbours discouraged from releasing the video? Why has the SPD failed to respond to several people who say they have information about Masmari? Was Masmari a person of interest at the time of his latest sentencing hearing? Why hasn't Masmari been brought in for questioning?

We'll post new information as it becomes available.


Comments (40) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
This is really bizarre, but there are a number of foreign nationals, who exhibit consistent criminal and antisocial behaviors, who are informants for the SPD, and appear to get away with endless crimes, assaults, rape, etc.

Masmari sounds like one of them.

I don't know the motivation behind such a situation existing, but active criminals as informants is in itself highly criminal.

We need some serious investigation into these matters.
Posted by sgt_doom on January 24, 2014 at 3:58 PM · Report this
rob! 2
I don't know, maybe people in the Puzzle Palace are trying to see if he produces links to other people/organizations/unsolved crimes/conspiracies?

I don't like to see people tried and convicted on the internet. On the other hand, it would be awful if someone, whether mentally ill or ideologically directed, committed murder when it was preventable. Why not just put up the best available likenesses, digitally enhanced if possible, so that people study them, make flyers, and post them in clubs. His name adds nothing at this point. Even someone who read this post would be unlikely to remember it if asked a few hours later, and any close friends (whether below or above-board) will have already tipped him off, if he somehow missed the hubbub himself.
Posted by rob! on January 24, 2014 at 4:02 PM · Report this
theophrastus 3
similar to @1, i was going to Tom-Clancy-it-up and wonder if this guy wasn't under federal protection because of what/who he might know back home in Libya; essentially a member of a CIA spy protection program. certainly this is the sort of local authority twitchy behavior that we'd expect if such unlikeliness were the case.
Posted by theophrastus on January 24, 2014 at 4:13 PM · Report this
delirian 4
I think the explanation for the SPD behavior is becoming obvious. They don't think this was attempted mass murder, they think it is like a car prowling--they'll get to it if they have time (which they won't). And to make you feel nice, they'll even have a detective give you a card you can call if you solve it yourself.
Posted by delirian on January 24, 2014 at 4:13 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 5
@1: Fuck off with your bohemian grove inside job crazy idiocy in this thread about what sounds to be a mentally ill person who may have attempted to harm people we care about.

Everyone else's life is a tool to advance your dumb ideology.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 4:18 PM · Report this
6 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
I want to remain anonymous because I know this guy and frankly i'm afraid of him. He is mentally ill and his progressive breakdowns over the past two years have been escalating. It is sad. He is sick. He needs real legitimate help and has been bailed out time and time again by his family. My friends and I have been wondering where and how it was going to escalate and here it is. I just thought it was going to be with a gun or a deadly confrontation with the police. What he did was wrong but again, the dude is sick. He is not in control. No one is home.
Posted by Dr.Dr. on January 24, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 8
Have you guys gone to Murray and Harrell's offices? They're supposed to be the elected oversight here as Mayor and chair of the committee with the most supposed control over SPD. The theories from 1 & 2 are frighteningly plausible.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 24, 2014 at 4:25 PM · Report this
delirian 9
Fuck off with your bohemian grove inside job crazy idiocy in this thread about what sounds to be a mentally ill person who may have attempted to harm people we care about.
Nobody has said this. All that we know is that he is a person of interest, and is NOT a suspect right now. You are making shit up and smearing this man's name without knowing the facts. If anybody needs to be told to fuck off right now, it is you.
Posted by delirian on January 24, 2014 at 4:33 PM · Report this
fletc3her 10
I think the real answer is that this is just how slow police work tends to go. As soon as somebody is arrested the action has to be justified in court. It's worth taking time to get everything in order before you take another action.

However is there any reason not to publish the person of interest's name? Not really. As long as the police don't release it there's no judicial problem. Assuming the person knows something about the arson it puts pressure on the perpetrators and their friends and family raising the potential for someone to come forward with additional information.

And even the discussion with Neighbors makes sense. I attend many meetings with people in the LGBT community who don't necessarily want their picture on the front page of a newspaper.
Posted by fletc3her on January 24, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 11
@9: I'm responding to his assumptions.

The "sounds to be mentally ill" is in response to his confirmed behaviors.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 12
The first "his" being doom, the second being the person of interest in this case.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Report this
seatackled 13
Maybe you should fuck off, Nancy Grace.

He's not officially a suspect, but do you seriously think the lynch mob isn't going to treat him like one? Making shit up starts up above @1, where we get a bunch of scary foreigners--and not the ones from Ireland, obviously--out to get us all. Sure sounds a lot more like smearing a lot of men's (and women's) names without knowing any facts than what you're accusing @5 of.
Posted by seatackled on January 24, 2014 at 4:44 PM · Report this
delirian 14
@11: No, you are making shit up and defaming him. There is no evidence that has been released that indicates that he was responsible the crime. None! And even insinuating that he "may have" done it is gross defamation. This applies to your comment as well as the others in this thread that have made that unfounded association. If you follow police stories long enough, you will learn not to jump to conclusions. The police are often wrong, and jumping to conclusions can have real consequences for innocent people. So act like an adult and wait for the facts.
Posted by delirian on January 24, 2014 at 4:45 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 15
I could probably phrase it better, but I acknowledge that the mentioned multiple assaults, violating anti-harassment orders, etc along with feeling protective of the crowd at Neighbors are skewing my ability to speak rationally about this.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 4:49 PM · Report this
delirian 16
@13: I didn't respond to @1 because I generally ignore anything sgt_doom says.
Posted by delirian on January 24, 2014 at 4:50 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 17
@14: This guy needs to be monitored for his own safety as well as ours. That's guaranteed, whether it needs to be published on the Slog or not.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 4:50 PM · Report this
seatackled 18

I humbly withdraw my suggestion to fuck off; I misunderstood your meaning. But undead is working off what the bartenders have said about the guy, which, while not "official" in the police sense may be taken as more than just rumor, so I wouldn't characterize this as smearing his name.
Posted by seatackled on January 24, 2014 at 5:01 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 19
Seriously shitty civic communication going on right now. Come on, SPD. (And If they can't give us any useful information, step the eff up for us, Mayor Murray.)
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on January 24, 2014 at 5:01 PM · Report this
delirian 20
@17,18: The biggest issue right now is that the SPD isn't explaining jack or shit, so people naturally start theorizing based on the trivial amount they have released. And their apparent disinterest in this case is only fueling amateur sleuthing. But right now, we only know two facts: someone intentionally tried to light the exit to the nightclub on fire in a way that could have caused a lot of deaths and the SPD wants to ask a man some questions related to this case.
Posted by delirian on January 24, 2014 at 5:10 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 21
@20: "SPD wants to ask a man some questions related to this case."

Separate to the previous discussion, if they only wanted information from him and him alone, would they have bothered to publicly label him a person of interest? Wouldn't that move be more to find persons more familiar with him who might have evidence to or contrary to any involvement with the attempted arson?
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Report this
delirian 22
@21: For all we know right now, the SPD might have been trying to compile a list of statements from every person who was in the nightclub or who had recently been in it. Then they found a person they couldn't identify, so they asked the public for help. But the fact is that we really don't know why the SPD wants to talk to him.
Posted by delirian on January 24, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 23
@22: That's reasonable, thanks.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 5:42 PM · Report this
Jesus H. Christ.

If there anything dependable in this universe it's that you count on the crazy of the internet (and SLOG specifically) to speculate insanely on shit they know nothing about. Fuck if SLOG admins had any integrity as all they would delete the revolting ravings of morons like Doom. This is a mans life here. Okay?

Here are some facts I know:

Musab is an American citizen. He was born here. His parents live in Libya. He didn't have any family in this town. So cops aren't trying to smoke out anybody or what ever.

He wasn't an "informant", a radical muslim (judging by the amount of beer he used to drink during Ramadan), or a Reptillian, or what ever stupid fucking thing slides sideways into your deranged paranoid pseudo-cortex's.

He was in New York through most of the fall staying with a relative because he was having severe financial and emotional distress.

He didn't hate gay people as far I know. Since most the people he hung out with were gay, that would be odd if he did.

He did become more religious as his mental state and cannabis use grew worse. His religious outbursts were tangential to his impulsive behavior. But before that he was a great guy which is what makes this doubly terrible.

I don't know what's up with SPD. But I'd imagine determining all the details about somebody as itinerant as Musab and getting a proper mental health evaluations etc change the nature and timing of an investigation. They can't arrest anyone until they have evidence. They DID have him in custody on the separate assault charge, but could only hold him so long.

It took nearly a week for a SPD detective to call me back - after a desk officer let me leave the 12th Precinct without taking a word of my information and insisting I call the Arson unit my self -which is infuriating.

It sounded like there were a number of other people who identified him from the photos (and later probably the video) and the detectives (or detective - since I bet there was only one assigned to this) had to be very methodical about contacting each of them. So I'll cut them/him some slack.

But you guys? Tolerating all this insane conspiracy shit on SLOG is just too much.
Posted by tkc on January 24, 2014 at 5:43 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 25
At least only one other person was dumb enough to come to doom's aid.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 6:04 PM · Report this
@25 yeah. I count three. Regardless, the Stranger shouldn't let that asshole poison the well with the first comment being so fucked up. After all they pulled one comment I see but not Dooms. Which... Christ... I mean... really?
Posted by tkc on January 24, 2014 at 6:13 PM · Report this
seatackled 27

raindrop maybe? I'm trying to recall if I had seen that monicker on this thread.
Posted by seatackled on January 24, 2014 at 6:55 PM · Report this
raindrop 28
@27: No.
Posted by raindrop on January 24, 2014 at 8:17 PM · Report this
I don't think the word "suspect" exists anymore in police vernacular. There are no suspects anymore, only persons of interest.
Posted by Citizen R on January 24, 2014 at 8:51 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 30
I love how the internet has allowed everyone to be sit at home juries! It's AMAZING!!!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on January 25, 2014 at 5:28 AM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 31
@30 - Of course you do. Considering how much you judge everything else, I'm sure you feel right at home.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on January 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM · Report this
@24: Tkc wrote, "It took nearly a week for a SPD detective to call me back - after a desk officer let me leave the 12th Precinct without taking a word of my information and insisting I call the Arson unit my self -which is infuriating."

Anyone can file a complaint by completing and submitting a form on City of Seattle's website. Given that you did not receive the service you think our public staff should provide, I hope you will file a complaint.
Posted by Phil M on January 25, 2014 at 9:29 AM · Report this
@29: I, as well, suspect so. I figure they were burned one too many times by publicly naming someone as a suspect, so they quit using the word and instead publicly name people as "persons of interest."

Would one of you people throwing around the terms suspect and person of interest here please let us all know what you think the difference is?
Posted by Phil M on January 25, 2014 at 9:32 AM · Report this
Same thing happened here. Owner of this bar was habitually crazy, and the police refused to do anything. He was a neighborhood nuisance for years. Then, this:…

Posted by Same SPD Bullshit on January 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM · Report this
Note to the Usual Idiots here:

Try reading the SPD police activities reports for the last 5, 10 and 15 years, and perhaps some of you "I-can't-find-my-vagina" douchebaggers will actually learn something --- but that would entail actively seeking out the facts, something lazy-brained lackeys are incapable of.
Posted by sgt_doom on January 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM · Report this
thatsnotright 36
Maybe SPD doesn't want the video released for reasons other than the arson. There could be undercover narcotics officers partying in there for all we know. There have been long, ongoing stings in other bars so why not Neighbours? It's not as if party boys are averse to banned substances.
Posted by thatsnotright on January 25, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 37
@35: Nope, you're still a xenophobic, apparently also misogynistic pile of fecal matter.

My "vagina" is pretty irrelevant to you being an unhinged crank. Masturbating to Alex Jones isn't thinking.

Throughout your Slog career (and elsewhere on the internet I see you post under that account name) I've never seen any actual fact or insight offered from you. Just ranting.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 25, 2014 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Is it possible that he is a "person of interest" for the NSA, and the feds have ordered local police to keep their grubby mitts off him?
Posted by TechBear on January 26, 2014 at 9:39 AM · Report this
Timrrr 39
Did ya'all ever stop to consider that...

Maybe letting the "person of interest" know exactly what video evidence you have on him before you can question him --by stupidly leaking that video to the press-- effectively takes away a huge advantage you would have had during the questioning and blows to hell any chance you might have had of catching him in a lie & vastly improving your chances of getting a solid conviction at trial.

It's possible the Arson Unit may be more concerned with doing the investigation right --albeit slowly and methodically-- and getting the guy actually convicted, rather than just placating the hurried deadlines of an impatient, over-media-saturated public that thinks the case is always suppose to get solved before the next commercial break. (Because that's what happens on CSI, after all.)
Posted by Timrrr on January 27, 2014 at 1:07 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 40
@38: Oh look, more stupid.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 27, 2014 at 8:14 AM · Report this

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