Kent Police arrested a 25-year-old male transient for investigation of arson after he reportedly threw an unknown type of accelerant at an unmarked police car parked at City Hall.
The man allegedly threw the flaming object at the tires of the vehicle at about 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11. Officers put out the fire with fire extinguishers, according to an email from Cmdr. Robert Hollis. Nobody was inside the car and no one was injured.
“Very little,” Hollis said when asked about the damage to the Ford Taurus used for patrol operations. “The tires were replaced on the vehicle and it was looked over by our mechanics.”
Hollis said that the man appears to be transient, from outside the Kent area.
“We have determined that the suspect had been in custody in Snohomish County from Dec. 28 until three days prior to setting our vehicle on fire,” according to a police statement issued Wednesday afternoon. “He stated to a Kent officer that he had taken a bus from Everett to Kent on the day of the incident. We have no additional information on a prior address for him, and we have not located any ties to the Kent area, except for the incident on Monday.”
The man remained in custody Wednesday on $150,000 bail.
The incident caused plenty of alarm for police.
“I am incredibly grateful that no one was in the car and I am even more grateful that no one was hurt by this dangerous and potentially lethal act,” Police Chief Rafael Padilla said in a statement. “And although it is clear that our officers were the target of this act, they responded with professionalism and integrity. They were able to take this male into custody without having to use force.”
The patrol vehicle was parked in an unsecured parking separate from the marked patrol vehicles that are parked in a secured lot. The unsecured lot is between City Hall, 220 Fourth Ave. S., and the Kent Police Department.
A bystander and a city employee witnessed the incident and reported it right away.
“Their quick actions to report this allowed us to respond quickly and take the male into custody,” Padilla said.
Padilla said the department took the act very seriously.
“Any attack on my officers is something that is right at the top of our priorities, and we will do everything we can to keep them safe,” Padilla said.
Mayor Dana Ralph released the following statement:
“I want to start by being really clear: what happened here today (Jan. 11) in Kent at City Hall, in our own backyard, is not acceptable,” Ralph said. “It’s not who we are as a community and it won’t be tolerated. While we’re committed to taking care of and keeping safe our 130,000 residents, we are also committed to taking care of and keeping safe our 730 city employees who come to work every single day to serve this city.
“I’m extremely proud of the swift action of our police department. They not only prevented harm to any individuals here whether it be city employees, people visiting City Hall campus, or further destruction of property. They were able to take the suspect into custody without any incident. That’s how we do things here in Kent. It’s important to me that as a community we stand together. We know that as a city the only way that we have moved forward is together.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated Wednesday afternoon with more information about the man arrested for investigation of arson.