Friday, November 19, 2010

Surveillance Video Shows Molotov Cocktail Triggered Fire At LDS Chapel In Mukilteo, Washington

Update December 2nd: Surveillance video now released via YouTube and embedded in this post.

The investigation into the disastrous October 16th, 2010 fire at the Mukilteo chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues, and according to the Everett Herald, a Molotov cocktail thrown against the building started the conflagration. Story also picked up by the Seattle Times.

Investigators obtained surveillance video from nearby Kamiak High School that shows part of the arson in progress. “We had a clear view of the back of the church,” Mukilteo detective Lance Smith said. “It shows a device being lit, a device being thrown, and then relatively quickly — within two to three minutes — the back of the church is engulfed in flames.” The video was finally made available on December 2nd; at about the :03 second point, you'll see the flash of the Molotov cocktail lit, and around the :12 second point, you'll see the fire begin to build, with smoke pouring out of one side.

Remnants of the Molotov cocktail have been sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for possible fingerprint and DNA testing. In addition, investigators continue to conduct interviews and follow up on tips. Several outstanding subpoenas could also produce important evidence. The latest damage estimate from the fire is set at around $4 million; reconstruction is expected to take two years or less.

Police urge anyone with information about the fire to call 800-55-ARSON (800-552-7766). A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to a conviction.


Murdock Wallis said...

Elder Packer gave a talk at the Church's General Conference, meaning a talk given only to members of the Church, which stated that gay sex was "impure", sinful, etc., on October 3, 2010. All hell broke loose. Gay advocacy groups were furious and said so publicly and loudly. The nation's largest gay advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, quickly gathered 150,000 signatures on a petition demanding that Elder Packer's remarks be withdrawn (they were not withdrawn). Then, on October 16, 2010, somebody with a molotov cocktail burns the meetinghouse.

Almost certainly, the arsonist was a gay person angry about the Church's position on gay sex, about the Church's support of Prop 8 in California, and, in particular, about Elder Packer's talk of less than two weeks earlier. He may have been incited by the heated rhetoric of the HRC or other gay advocacy groups which followed Elder Packer's talk. He might well be a gay ex-Mormon who resigned from the Church or was excommunicated due to his engaging in gay sex. (An "ExMoHo" to use their own term.) He might have been from somewhere else in the greater Seattle area and picked out this particular meetinghouse to burn because it could be approached from the rear without the gay arsonist being seen. That seems particularly likely if, as the newspaper reports suggest, the meetinghouse backed up to woods.

Even if there are fingerprints and/or DNA on the remains of the Molotov cocktail, despite it being burned, that would not lead to identification of the gay arsonist unless his fingerprints and/or DNA happen to be on file already with law enforcement authorities.

David said...

Sorry, Murdock, your reasoning has a bad history. It was used to blame the Spanish for the sinking of the U.S. Maine (which in fact was probably caused by internal engine/boiler malfunction) and to blame Native Americans for the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Let the police do their work.

Also, Elder Packer's words were withdrawn. Read the written conference report; there are significant changes. The Church is very sensitive to public opinion, and for good reason.