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Swalwell charged with arson, burglary

King County Prosecutors have formally charged Kevin Todd Swalwell with 11 counts of arson and one burglary in the Greenwood arson spree. The 46-year-old homeless man is being held on $1 million bail. Charging documents state that the standard sentencing range would be nine to 12 years, but due to aggravating factors, prosecutors intend to seek more than 30 years in prison.
According to the charging documents (our content partner, the Seattle Times, has the charging documents pdf here), Swalwell is charged with first degree arson for the following fires:

  • The house fire at 108 NW 84th St. on Aug. 13. That fire seriously burned one man and displaced another family.
  • Setting fire to the Green Bean Coffeehouse, 208 NW 85th St., Oct. 23. Three other businesses were destroyed and several others seriously damaged.
  • The massive blaze at NW Discount in Shoreline on Nov.12

Swalwell is charged with second degree arson for the following fires:

  • The former OK Corral restaurant at 8733 Greenwood Ave. N. on June 19.
  • Behind a building housing Moonphoto and Wish at 7708 Greenwood Ave. N. on Aug. 12.
  • A building housing O-Rings West at 1111 N. 98th St. on Aug. 13.
  • CPA Seattle at 338 NW 85th St. on Nov. 5.
  • Rosewood Guitar at 8401 Greenwood Ave. N. on Nov. 5.
  • Moonphoto at 7704 Greenwood Ave. N. on Nov. 8.
  • Olive You at 8516 Greenwood Ave. N. on Nov. 9.
  • Greenwood Quickstop at 8102 Greenwood Ave. N. on Nov. 9.

And he was charged with second degree burglary at the Green Bean Coffeehouse, 208 NW 85th St., on Oct. 23, just prior to committing that arson.
According to charging documents, Swalwell admitted to the Aug. 13 fire that seriously injured Carlos Salmeron. (The Seattle Times profiled Salmeron’s recovery last Sunday.)

Swalwell admitted to starting this fire by entering the fenced area at the back of the house, spraying lighter fluid on a corner area of the house, and igniting it. Swalwell said he tried to wipe his prints off of the lighter fluid container. He then advised that he disposed of the lighter fluid container in a nearby garbage bin at a white house located on a side street.

As to the Oct. 23 fire that destroyed the Green Bean Coffeehouse, Pho Tic Tac, Szechuan Bistro and C.C. Teriyaki:

Swalwell admitted to starting this fire. He explained that he entered the Green Bean business by breaking a window at the rear and climbing in, entering the office, and stealing the safe and attached filing cabinet after removing the drawers from the cabinet. He stated that the safe and attached filing cabinet was placed into a large, green, wheeled recycling bin, covered with cardboard, and wheeled from the scene. Swalwell then started the fire in the office by igniting cardboard and paper inside…Further, Swalwell directed police detectives to the area where he had abandoned the safe. The detectives responded to that location and recovered the safe, which had been pried open, along with a green recycling bin and wet cardboard. A long metal pipe apparently used to break open the safe was likewise recovered. 

In requesting the $1 million bail, prosecutors state:

The defendant here engaged in a several months long arson campaign directed primarily at the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. His actions seriously injured one man, endangered the safety of countless bystanders and neighbors, and terrorized an entire community, in addition to causing millions of dollars in damage and disrupting small business owners’ livelihoods…He manifestly presents an ongoing danger to the community if released from custody.