A Seattle nightclub has increased security while police continue to search for a suspect or suspects responsible for an arson attack on New Year's Eve.
According to Shaun Knittel of Social Outreach Seattle, police are looking closely at surveillance video the club handed over after someone doused the stairs with gasoline and set them on fire.
There were 700 people crammed inside for a New Year's party, all of whom escaped with no injuries.
Lt. Col. Michael Casey, on active duty in the Air Force, was visiting Seattle for the New Year's holiday. He and his friend, Christopher Bostick, also active duty in the Army, immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the flames. They were unaware a container of gasoline sat just feet away.
"They were quickly advancing. The flames were probably 4-feet high when we first saw it and quickly became a rather large fire," Casey said. "It was a very dangerous situation that could've ended with injuries or deaths."
Minutes later, club management discovered a one-liter container of gasoline at the top of the stairs.
"This person knew what they were doing and knew exactly what their goal was," Knittel said.
Knittel continues to act as Neighbour's spokesperson, a club he and others call a piece of LGBTQ history in Seattle. In 30 years, he says, they've never seen an attack like this.
Police have yet to name any evidence that would identify the arson as a "biased crime," and they would not comment on the details of their ongoing investigation.
Knittel reports reviewing surveillance video, in which he describes someone entering the bar during the midnight countdown and acting suspiciously.
"They did not look like a nightclub customer, let's put it that way," he said. "They moved very quickly. They were in the building for less than ten minutes, came into the building, did what they had to do, and go."
Knittel would not describe the video in detail to respect the work of detectives.
Though Knittel believes bar security did all they could that night, they've since done even more. They built a new wall separating an entrance to Neighbours from the adjoining bar, Therapy. Entry and re-entry will require a bag check. Security personnel will monitor additional spots.
Neighbours will showcase the new security and thank supporters at an event there on Saturday night.
"It could've ended much worse," Knittel said. "For whatever reason you think you had for doing this, you're wrong. There's no reason to burn people alive."
For more information on Saturday night's event, visit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=814180008598115&set=vb.505306519485467&type=2&theater