VIDEO: Do you recognize this ‘person of interest’ in West Seattle arsons? Watch both clips

(SCROLL DOWN for additional video that appears to show fire-setting)

Just in from Seattle Police – video showing a “person of interest” in two of the West Seattle arsons, near 35th SW and SW Morgan:

Detectives have obtained video footage of a person of interest in the first two fires on October 12th. In that incident, two fires were set near the 3500 block of SW Morgan Street. The footage, recorded shortly before 2:30 AM on the 12th, shows an individual dressed in black and carrying a black bag walking toward the bus shelter, where the first fire was set. The surveillance camera did not capture the individual’s face, but police believe the person is a white or light-skinned male. Detectives are hoping someone out there will recognize the person’s clothing or may have seen him in West Seattle around the time of the fires.

If you have any information about this person or this case, please contact detectives at 206-684-8980 or call 911.

Screen grab (click image for larger view):

If you’ve missed previous coverage of the arsons, full backstory is in our “where it stands” report from Wednesday, to which we also added our video of what Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis told the Morgan Community Association last night.

5:54 PM UPDATE: In the past hour or so, SPD has substituted in its blotter post a longer clip for the original :12 one you see above. This one shows the actual fire-lighting:

40 Replies to "VIDEO: Do you recognize this 'person of interest' in West Seattle arsons? Watch both clips"

  • Scott October 22, 2015 (12:07 pm)

    Yea, that video really helped. It could be anyone.

  • Mike October 22, 2015 (12:18 pm)

    we really don’t have more cameras around?

    • WSB October 22, 2015 (12:42 pm)

      If you know of one, and you think police might have missed it, I’m sure they’d be happy to hear about it. Meantime, someone said the same thing on twitter and the SPD response is what I would say – however fragmentary, they’re going to opt for getting it out rather than saying it would be of no use. Somebody might have seen something, might know of a person who tends to dress that way (backpack included) and would have been out in the 1 am hour that morning, who knows. Or a bus driver might see it and recall letting a guy off at that hour on 35th nearby, or … Detective work is a matter of putting puzzle pieces together (as is so much in life) … TR

  • Diane October 22, 2015 (12:56 pm)

    so why is this a “person of interest”?
    could be a guy coming home late from a job downtown
    did he do something suspicious?
    or just walking, “dressed in black and carrying a black bag”?

  • justme October 22, 2015 (1:03 pm)

    That is an odd looking hat to me. Maybe even a furry collar or some kind of scarf around the neck too?

  • trickycoolj October 22, 2015 (1:21 pm)

    Diane – the video cuts off as the person sits on the bench, it’s possible there is more to the individuals actions after the video stops.

    I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more people at the bus stop, there’s almost always a group loitering there and across the street at the gas station when I’ve driven home after midnight.

  • LB October 22, 2015 (1:29 pm)

    I don’t think this person is wearing a hat.

    Personally, I am hopeful this could lead to some good ID leads – it’s got clothes, a backpack, a head shape and hair, and the person is walking so you get a few seconds of their gait which actually seems a bit atypical to me.

    True story: The other day I was walking behind a woman at the junction and in just a split second recognized her from the way she walked and her very straight hair. I said her name and she turned around. This was someone I knew casually 20 years ago in college on the other side of the country and had not seen or spoken to her since. She was just visiting a friend in Seattle. I was stunned that I recognized her from behind but I figure that our brains must store certain characteristics about people way beyond their facial features.

  • cluelessinws October 22, 2015 (1:35 pm)

    Where is Ryan Cox these days?
    And yes it’s true – while a short clip, it can speak volumes to the right person.

    • WSB October 22, 2015 (1:38 pm)

      He was released from jail two months ago after serving time on a trespass case. I haven’t heard any reports of him in the area; his family has long since moved away, so I don’t know if he would have come back here or gone to where they are.

  • Neighbor October 22, 2015 (1:38 pm)

    Wow!!! That is suspicious. (NOT!) i agree with Diane’s comments above. Woe to the person without a car that happens to be there at the wrong time and place. You will become a “person of interest” and have to tell the cops what you were doing.

  • holdingmyhorses October 22, 2015 (1:46 pm)

    The gait looks like he drunk stumbled right where his left foot hits the area around the sidewalk seam. Or he has a limp.

  • Alan October 22, 2015 (1:53 pm)

    @Diane – Time and location make him a person of interest. He is at the location right around the time of the fire. He may well just be someone trying to get home, but he should talk to the police soon to clear it up.

    I am assuming that the clock on the cam was not adjusted for daylight savings and that there were no others filmed around that time before the fire started.

  • vortex2.71 October 22, 2015 (1:54 pm)

    I think people are missing the point here. The actions in the video aren’t suspicious, but the person is. A guy with the same backpack and shoes could have shown up on two videos around two separate arson events, so they want to talk with him. Also, the video isn’t good, but they are simply hoping someone might think “Hey, that kind of looks like that guy Joe, who tends to wear all black and has a black backpack with a silver thingy on it just like that.”

  • Egan Fo October 22, 2015 (1:57 pm)

    LB- I thought the same thing about this person’s gait. It’s pretty distinct and could hopefully lead to an arrest.

  • Another Neighbor October 22, 2015 (1:59 pm)

    Calm down, everyone. A “person of interest” isn’t the same thing as a suspect. It’s simply someone the police are interested in talking to because, in this case, he was in a particular location at a particular time.

    You’re right, he may very well have a legitimate reason for having been there then, and in that case he’s still important to talk to because of anything he might have seen while he was in the area.

    These are serious crimes that endanger lives. I don’t think we need to be so suspicious of the police that we keep them from even being able to talk to individuals. If we restrict the police that much, we may as well not have them at all.

  • James October 22, 2015 (2:52 pm)

    I will second ‘holdingmyhorses’ comment that the “person of interest” does in fact appear to be drunk as their step at the 0:07 mark entails their right foot crossing over their left foot.

  • Bestbets October 22, 2015 (5:02 pm)

    As far as the “why is he a person of interest?” question…the news is showing a longer clip that shows this person starting a fire at the bus stop.

    • WSB October 22, 2015 (5:52 pm)

      Thanks, Best. We went to the grocery store, and in the meantime, the SPD Blotter post has substituted an 11-minute-long clip for the original :12 one – with no announcement, not even a tweet, nor explanation for why they didn’t just release the whole thing if they were going to do so later. (I was just speculating to my co-publisher that the video continued with actual firesetting (before seeing this).) Here is the direct link; I’m adding it above, and will probably turn it into a separate story too. – (added) The firesetting starts right where the original short clip ended, and seems to go on for a while. The clip ends with SFD’s arrival. – TR

  • Sherlock October 22, 2015 (5:48 pm)

    What I see is a young guy probably coming home from working swing shift on a service job of some kind given what appears to be a black uniform, probably dog tired, walking head down, who didn’t see the branches hanging over the sidewalk until the last minute and awkwardly swerved left to avoid running into them.

  • Sherlock October 22, 2015 (6:19 pm)

    Wrote my comment before the full clip was released. Why in the freaking world didn’t SPD provide that to begin with? My guess would be cognitive issues.

  • WHAT?! October 22, 2015 (7:02 pm)

    Skeptics. How quickly you jump to conclusions. Stay wise and keep quiet. The police have a strong understanding of what they are doing. Just pay attention to the video and see if you can help, instead of adding your two lame cents.

  • Holdingmyhorses October 22, 2015 (9:10 pm)

    The person does look like wearing a black Carhartt jacket with a hood rolled down and a black knit headband Carhartt sells. So that is a thick head of hair within the band.

    Maybe a white male; under 30; who likely drinks/self-medicates before igniting; who has minimal education; under or unemployed, and is raging, if FBI profile based on study of 80+ incarcerated arsonists is credible.

    The back of the head and neck looks of slight/slender circumference. It makes me think he is very slender.

    Hope somebody recognizes something and puts it together soon but I don’t think the intent is to murder or harm people directly, rather express a rage via potentially blowing something up and discovering a sick satisfaction at powerful consequences of the disturbing action when there is little to no satisfaction in the life otherwise. Very sad.

  • seattletimebandit October 22, 2015 (9:27 pm)

    Perfect example of how arsonists are opportunistic. He’s walking along and suddenly spots the cardboard box. Keep flammable materials away from your homes folks. You never know…until this guy is caught. This sucks.

  • Eric October 23, 2015 (4:30 am)

    Where’s the video Q13 has? It shows this guy starting the fire. I saw it on the news yesterday.

    I’ve seen this guy. Me and my wife were watching the news yesterday and as soon as I saw the clip it startled me, I told my wife I saw this guy on the way to work a few days ago. He was wearing the exact same clothes with backpack and he had that same distinct walk. I leave my house about 3:30 am, so I see a lot of characters roaming around, but I remember this guy because he just seemed to be randomly walking like he didn’t have a destination to get to.

    He was walking in front of Westwood Village on Barton, heading towards 35th at approximately 3:30 am

    • WSB October 23, 2015 (6:26 am)

      That’s the second clip above.

  • Eric October 23, 2015 (4:38 am)

    PS. I don’t know how helpful it would be, if at all, but I’m going to the cops to let them know what I saw

  • Dunno October 23, 2015 (6:45 am)

    About Ryan Cox. He is in the area and I did talk to Seattle Police about him. He wears a back pack similar to this. Hopefully they have been able to talk to him? I’m holding my horse too, but to be honest he is about the same size as this person in the video. The past few times I’ve seen him he was on a bike near Lincoln Park. Not saying he has anything to do with this but hope police do interview him and check out his backpack, ect. He has been known to be like the profile that Holdingmyhorses has put forth. He’s been caught scribbling homophobic writing around Solstice Park. On the bench’s inside and outside the tennis court’s and in the awful porta potty. This was all done in the past, but not recently.

  • anonyme October 23, 2015 (7:43 am)

    Eric, I had the same creepy feeling about the guy. I think I’ve seen him around Westwood Village.

    Personally, I don’t see why this guy warrants so much attention, while illegal fireworks are set off constantly – with no police interest whatsoever.

  • Dunno October 23, 2015 (9:34 am)

    Just saw Ryan this morning. Highly doubt this is him. He wears a different backpack, colorful shoes, distinctive hat, and riding a bike this morn past the Lincoln Park mini. I really hope he’s doing better!

  • holdingmyhorses October 23, 2015 (9:55 am)

    you’ve evidently little respect for destruction of property. this can escalate.

    so glad you are not in charge.

  • Grrrrr October 23, 2015 (10:34 am)

    I just hope he isn’t a high point resident to prove whomever automatically assumed he was when the fires first started. So rude!!!

  • cindi barker October 23, 2015 (10:56 am)

    Eric, I hope you have contacted SPD directly with your information!

  • RJB October 23, 2015 (11:57 am)

    holdingmyhorses…I was thinking the same thing BUT I was thinking: a) person is dressed all in black, a lot of bars/restaurants have the dress code “you can where your own clothes as long as it is all black”, so they could work at a rest/bar, hence the fires being started between 2:30-4:30am b)looks like they are maybe drunk, get off work have a few shift drinks (?). Please Eric, please call SDP. This guy has me totally freaked out!!

  • Brian October 23, 2015 (1:07 pm)

    I’m looking to get my amateur gumshoe license and this looks to be the place to get started?

    • WSB October 23, 2015 (1:22 pm)

      You never know what might lead to the tip that actually solves the case, or might spark a memory that leads to a tip, or …

  • jay October 23, 2015 (2:08 pm)

    @WSB: “spark a memory” might not be the best choice of words in this case….

    • WSB October 23, 2015 (2:18 pm)

      Sorry about that. Need to engage brain before fingers.

  • anonyme October 23, 2015 (4:18 pm)

    “Hope somebody recognizes something and puts it together soon but I don’t think the intent is to murder or harm people directly, rather express a rage via potentially blowing something up and discovering a sick satisfaction at powerful consequences of the disturbing action when there is little to no satisfaction in the life otherwise. Very sad.”

    HMH, my comment was intended to be ironic…just like your quote above, which perfectly describes fireworks fanatics.

    • WSB October 23, 2015 (4:26 pm)

      Meantime, if anybody’s wondering … just checked with SPD at 4 pm. Nothing new to report.

  • John October 24, 2015 (6:54 am)

    People are creatures of habit. He will strike again.

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