A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Overflow crowd attends Greenwood arson meeting

November 10th, 2009 · Comments

I’m posting quick updates from Doree, who’s texting me from the meeting. She’ll follow up with a more complete report afterward.

8:24 p.m.: About 150 people still talking with officials at the second meeting recap.

8 p.m.: The meeting downstairs broke up about 10 minutes ago and officials are talking to people upstairs who couldn’t make it into the first meeting.

7:44 p.m.: Doree says attendees have been very respectful – no shouting. Lots of clapping and thank yous to firefighters and police.

7:41 p.m.: Seattle Mayor-elect Mike McGinn is in attendance. Lots of applause for him at the start of the meeting.

7:36 p.m.: After the meeting wraps up downstairs, officials plan to head upstairs to talk to the overflow crowd. Lots of questions being asked. It could be a while.

7:31 p.m.: Assistant Chief A.D. Vickery says that not only has property been lost, but that people’s lives and those of firefighters have been put at risk.

7:20 p.m.: Doree says there are “several hundred” more people who want to get into the meeting, but there is no room.

7:03 p.m.: Officials say there have been 14 arsons since June. That’s up from the 10 previously reported.

7:02 p.m.: The meeting has begun. Doree says the fire marshal started it off with fire safety information on how to get out of the building in event of a fire. No kidding. And two interpreters for the deaf are taking turns.

6:45 p.m.: It’s 15 minutes until the meeting starts and already there is a standing room only crowd, according to Doree, who is at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church, 7500 Greenwood Ave. N., where the meeting is being held.

Doree estimates there are 200 people in attendance, plus police and fire representatives, as well as TV news crews, including KING and KIRO.


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  1. aaron says:

    pastor just confirmed there’s about 400 people downstairs. People are still coming in though and are being told to wait in the sanctuary upstairs since its already packed.

  2. Tim Flanagan says:

    I was too tired to attend, having gotten up early to go walk around the neighborhood. Thanks for the great coverage!

  3. Dave says:

    I’m a Greenwood resident, out of town at the moment and wish I could be there. Thanks for the live updates!

  4. TheGreenhood says:

    Was no room, but I look forward to hearing updates on the meeting.

  5. Thank you for the report feeds – my husband is there and I am home with our children waiting to hear the outcome. We are rooting for the neighborhood of Greenwood 100%. Already, there has been a tremendous outpouring of support from its residents! Go-go Greenwood!

  6. Whopper says:

    Bet the arsonist is there…be sure to give everyone the evil eye.

  7. bubba says:

    I agree with whopper. It has been in my thoughts all day. My husband was turned away being told there are over 400 people inside. Lets find this firebug and hose him down.

  8. Penny says:

    I think they underestimated the crowd. I only stayed for 15 minutes; was able to get in the room, but was way in the back and couldn’t hear anything. Thank you Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church for opening your doors. Maybe they can have a second meeting for those of us that couldn’t hear (and those upstairs that couldn’t even get in).

  9. Rain says:

    So glad the attendees are representing our neighborhood well. Look forward to the rest of the updates in the morning. Meanwhile, keeping an eye on the alley and businesses.

  10. D says:

    Just got back from the meeting. didn’t really learn anything about the arsonist. to me, after 14 fires since June, there has been no progress made on finding him/her.

  11. D says:

    There really does not seem there is a real sense of urgency. But there probably is. Just doesn’t feel like it to me.

    Look for me on tv though.

  12. REIN says:

    Thank you for the live feeds! it is greatly appreciated and I look forward to a more comprehensive update.

  13. D says:

    Man, some of those old people asked some wacked out questions.

  14. Gwoodgirl says:

    If people want to organize, I think that we can help out the fire crew with door-to-door leafleting. Don’t know if they were only going out during the daytime, but they only hand out info flyers to people who are at home (don’t want to leave firestarters on the porch).

  15. E says:

    The mayor needs a new wardrobe.

  16. Gwoodgirl says:

    Maybe the guy from the current Mayor’s office can give him some fashion tips

  17. E says:

    How old is Jean Godden? man, she’s old.

  18. Gwoodgirl says:

    E & D were reading my mind during the meeting and are now putting it on display on this message board 😛

  19. tw78 says:

    D – I agree that I didn’t really learn a whole lot, though it was good to see the community out and concerned. And to your comment #13 – totally agree with the “wacked out questions” comment – don’t know if I would limit it to “old people”

  20. Patrick says:

    D, I don’t think the intent was to be a “tell you everything we know about an ongoing criminal inveestigation of someone we haven’t apprehended” meeting. I’m happy enough with what they offered. I’d like to have heard specifics or something really quantitative about increased law enforcement is present (or available). Saying “we really care about this” or “it’s a top priority” feels almost like pandering – i’d like to have heard “we’ve doubled late night patrols” or something. But I understand a lot of this is probably about information control, so I didn’t walk away too disappointed with not getting that.

  21. D says:

    just would have liked to know what progress they’ve made since June.

  22. birdwatcher says:

    was it me, or did it get a little weird when the real change guy ask the arsonist (if he was in the room) to talk to him and he would listen?

  23. AG says:

    Nice big crowd. Some of the questions were indeed wacky but hey, that’s Greenwood. And it’s not as if they were going to tell us what the profilers have deduced, now are they. (Real Change vendor ~= a profiler, whatever he may think.)

    I sat next to a guy who recorded the whole thing and expects to have an MP3 to offer. (Hi Brian!) Looking forward to that, especially since I’m sure the questions upstairs were interesting as well; hoping someone got in a query re the two-month gap in the timeline. (No fires for almost exactly 60 days between August and October, remember? It was so very peaceful…)

  24. now were talking! says:

    I wish they had answered the second part of the woman’s question who asked whether or not there would be garbage pickup tomorrow (the wacky part of her question!) The second was what is typical behavior of an arsonist like this…will they escalate until caught or with neighborhood vigilance can we get them to quit or move on? Maybe we will hear more info later!

  25. birdwatcher says:

    quick google search on arsonist profile

  26. AG says:

    now we’re talking, I believe it depends quite a bit. A friend of mine (on another town’s FD) sent me a link when I asked him about profiles and “typical” behavior: http://www.angelfire.com/sc3/cjrp/arson.html . The “serial” arsonist type — bottom of the page — sounds pretty familiar, but who knows…

  27. AG says:

    Oops 🙂 . Thanks birdwatcher.

    Anyone here yet from the upstairs meeting? I’m curious, but I wasn’t gonna contribute to the overcrowding problem. Did anyone from GAIN speak?

  28. pissedpoppa says:

    Any thoughts that it might be more than one person? This was the first time I heard there may be more than one person involved. Maybe a small gang? Just thinking.

  29. Vanos says:

    I have to tell you folks in Greenwood. I work in the middle of the night for a bakery and deliver in the Greenwood area. I have been in shock the last 2 weeks with the disturbing amount of police presence I have witnessed….NONE!

  30. AF says:

    Was at the meeting tonight and agree with the wacky-ness of some questions. Get that many people in one room, though–I don’t know what I expected. The one question I had that was never asked was about the police response to “suspicious persons.” I know that several people on this blog have posted notes to the effect that they’ve called the police about oddballs lurking around and have been told that unless the person’s breaking the law at the moment, they aren’t willing to do anything. The message tonight was (literally) “If you see something, say something.” It seems to me there’s a bit of disconnect between what we’re being told and what (by the sounds of it, anyway) people who actually do call are experiencing. Was this question clarified at all by the second round of questions upstairs (which I missed), or by anyone talking to some of the ‘officials’ individually?

  31. LZ says:

    check out this thread from the Seattle Times article about the Nov 8th fires:

    I never did see what “criticalthinker206″ wrote but 2 of his posts were sufficiently nasty to get removed and make people wonder what his personal beef was with Greenwood… it struck me then and it really strikes me now, after I read about serial arsonist profiles… do investigators check this stuff?

    … do posts like that put up a red flag?

  32. Mama Brown says:

    Thank you, Phinneywood, for the excellent real time reporting! You’re my new favorite, go-to news source, and you’re really helping mobilize and connect our neighborhood community.

  33. Blacksky says:

    I have to agree with Vanos, though I haven’t been out as much as a delivery person at night. I went out for over an hour and did a little citizen patrol…I saw one patrol car in that time, which was disturbing. They did address this at the meeting tonight though, that they have plain clothes officers patrolling….which is nice to know.

  34. Dave says:

    I’m glad to hear they say they have plain clothes officers around. I left for the airport at 3:30 a.m. Monday, 30 minutes before the fire at Olive You, and the neighborhood was eerily quiet. I didn’t see a single car on the street, police or otherwise.

  35. Dave says:

    Did they mention the Roycroft/B.C. suspect and if he’s at large?

  36. Dave says:

    Eek! We have two Daves posting here now.

  37. Toby says:

    Hi all…

    Toby from GAIN. Thanks for the hundreds that showed up tonight, was very powerful.

    To touch base about calling the police- the police want you to call- its the call center that tries to dispel. I learned the hard way 3 years ago that your best defense is to ask for an incident number. If there is an incident number the police have to respond, it can be as quick as a few minutes- or a few hours depending on whats going on, shift, etc etc.

    so when calling 911…. get the incident #!!!!!

  38. Matt says:

    I wanted to make it tonight, but wasn’t able to. I would love some more details on what was discussed at the meeting than what’s been reported in this blog post (unless there really wasn’t very much of anything concrete discussed? Sounds like it might have been fairly vague from some of your posts..) Are they planning on sending out the information in other forms besides just vocally?

    Also, does anyone know of any community leaders actually organizing systematic citizen patrols? I see a lot of comments from people suggesting them, and I know GAIN is putting some neighborhood walks together, but I haven’t seen anyone organizing patrols where it’s assured that there will be people covering all areas of downtown Greenwood at all hours of the night. Anyone hear of anything like this? I’d love to join up.

  39. AF says:

    @Toby: Thanks! That’s a response about calling regarding suspicious activity/characters that actually makes sense. I hope others take notice of this. Likewise, I like the idea of making this kind of information available to each other (i.e. the post that showed up here regarding the crepuscular dog-walker’s spotting an uncharacteristic-for-Greenwood looking fellow in the vicinity of the Quick Stop fire). I respect the Chief’s view of being civil to each other and not jumping at incriminating one’s neighbors, but at this point I would much rather be confronted myself than have us all turn away from situations that look “odd.”
    On that note, does anyone know of a “citizen’s information thread” (or some such thing) where people might consistently document the kind of things they see (on “patrol,” walking the dog, or just while out)? This site is obviously a great resource, but the threads start to get a bit scattered. Such a thread might also work as a central place for some initial contact information (though obviously not schedules, etc.) about patrols. For that matter, I would be more than happy to set up such a thread myself. I don’t want to step on the Phinnywood folks’ toes/plans, but the offer stands.

  40. Toby says:

    Hi Matt…

    at this time I am unaware of other agreed upon walks- Cindy (one of my GAIN co horts) gets the main email on the gaingroup list so if we her anything we will let you know.

    There is talk of this weekend and I would love to be able to lead/attend that one but am trying to balance things with work/life/neighborhood as we all are.

    If others are interested in doing their own walks or want advise from my experience on the Aurora front- please feel free to email me:


  41. allison says:

    Sorry, nothing was discussed tonight at the meeting. So frustrating!!!

  42. AF says:

    Just discovered the forum (here on Phinneywood). For folks looking for walks, there is a thread already started for others looking to meet up. Seems like this might also be a good place to note details of walks/patrols that might be useful to others doing the same.

  43. Toby says:

    sorry all.,.,.. tired. correct email is tthilden@gmail.com

  44. jason says:

    correction–it was not the interpreters pointing out the fire exits. it was the fire chief. the fire chief first asked the interpreters to come to the front of the room, then started explaining the fire exits. the interpreters had not yet arrived.

  45. Vanos says:

    I am not even a Greenwood Resident but a big fan of your neighborhood and I was beyond Angry this morning. After reading about the turn out for your meeting last night and what was going to be done, I do believe that the residents are the ones who are going to have to do this on their own.
    I delivered in your area last night at 3:35 am and left aroud 4 am and I saw No Police but I did see a Fire Vehicle patrolling.
    Beyond distrubing to me to see the lack of Police Presence in your community especially after the great turnout that happened last night.

  46. Iron City Mike says:

    As the police indicated at the meeting, some of the patrols are marked – and some are unmarked. This is a good thing, and I’m glad to hear it. Marked patrols are a deterent, but the arsonist is more likely to be caught (which is what we all want) if he thinks he is safe, attempts to do something, and is stopped by unmarked/out of uniform police.

  47. john walker says:

    i would like to see some onfo about mark morse and his whereabouts during the fires. mark is suspected in the roycroft fire and one in BC. he was supposedly committed up there and no more was said about it. rumour has it that he’s back here now, living on the ridge.

  48. Doree says:

    Jason – I corrected the section about the interpreter for the deaf starting off the meeting. I was texting Dale with info and he accidentally lumped two different things together. Thanks for catching that!

  49. Greenwood Dad says:

    Hi neighbors.

    I went to last night’s arson meeting. Crowded! Good to see.
    Went to the second “overflow” meeting upstairs after I couldn’t hear from the standing room only area at the first meeting. Glad for the turnout. Nice post-election cameos to make us feel good.

    News or information? Not a lot offered: Sleeping at your business will not likely help and it will change the dynamic when something happens…. not good. The city police have lots of “invisible” patrols (unmarked cars etc) “We’re out there.” We are actively investigating the crimes – each on their own merit and collecting all the info to look for patterns.

    But mostly we got a few, oft repeated, common-sense tips: Keep combustibles from near buildings, check your smoke detector, report supsicious activity (911), report out streetlights with pole number (They said that City Light will respond with special concern with our hood at this point.) etc.

    I suggest anyone thinking of patrolling on their own to go with a buddy. We have more than arsonists out there in the dark o’clock hours. I also think a car might be a little safer. A team could cover more ground (nice, slow, warm drive) and perhaps dissuade activity rather than surprise someone doing a crime. Hell, maybe get some donuts and some coffee like real cops! Just remember to call 911 at the first sign of something goofy.

    On that note, the police are not advising us to do patrols, nor are they saying we should not. They are not recommending cars or feet or bikes. They are simply recommending that we NOT engage anyone we think is suspicious and they ARE saying to call 911 right away.

    Be on the lookout for smoke, fire, suspicious folks and activity in alleys and unlit areas. Duh. I also try to say hello during the daylight and evening hours to anyone in the hood. Just say hello. Start up a conversation. Assume they are friendly. Real neighbors should react positive (or take a chill pill). Evil-doer’s aren’t so often in to being noticed.

    Above all else, let’s be safe out there!

    -Greenwood Dad

  50. Howdy Doodle says:

    john walker // Nov 11, 2009 at 8:54 am
    “i would like to see some onfo about mark morse and his whereabouts during the fires.”

    Is he in the phone book?

  51. Emc says:

    John Walker,

    You are absolutely correct. He is in the area. I posted a long post here w. links about the fires he was responsible for (14 in N.Seattle) (1-2 in Vancouver). He is in the area. He has schizoaffective disorder, which can lead to such behaviors as pyromania. The moderators deleted the info. I posted about him on this blog last night. I posted similar info. on a Seattle Times story under the name “The Crow” here: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/reader_feedback/public/display.php?source_name=mbase&source_id=2010242558

    Also, his middle name is “William” and you can sometimes find stories on him with his full name. GLTA and be aware.

  52. Howdy Doodle says:

    Emc, seems like the police would be watching him if they know where he is.

  53. Doree says:

    Emc – We did not delete your previous post. It got caught in the spam filter and was later approved (it’s in the other post about the arson meeting). Extra long or multiple URLs usually get flagged as spam.