EDMONDS – They wanted to start a fire and watch a big building burn just because they could.
That was the reason two men gave federal agents for allegedly igniting a fire that destroyed a downtown Edmonds condominium building in December, according to court documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Random S. Haug, 21, and Daniel W. Shreve, 18, both of Everett, were charged in federal court Monday. Two teenagers, a girl and boy, also face arson charges in connection with the Dec. 17 blaze that caused $4.5 million in damage.
If charged, the two teens would be prosecuted in Snohomish County Juvenile Court.
On the night of the fire, the four had been at a birthday party in Edmonds. Afterward, they filled half a small juice bottle with gasoline, according to court documents.
Shreve told investigators the group targeted The Gregory, a 90,000-square-foot condominium and retail building, because some friends were working on the project, and they knew it would be unoccupied, according to documents.
They allegedly lit the bottle, threw it into the building and then drove up the hill and watched it burn for 20 minutes. They returned a second time after filling up a larger juice bottle with gas at a nearby station to create a bigger fire. This time they allegedly threw the gas on a stairway and hall and lit it, according to court records. They returned a third time and threw additional combustibles on the fire, charging documents say.
About two hours later, the group returned to watch as the building was engulfed in flames. Shreve told investigators it was a “nice fire,” and Haug described it as a “cool fire,” according to court papers.
Haug told investigators that he felt bad that someone lost money and residents were evacuated, but said it was only property that was damaged, according to documents. The fire was set to make a statement that “we could do this,” Haug told investigators, documents say.
Both men told officers they didn’t expect the entire building to burn down. “They did want only two to three rooms to burn,” according to documents.
Shreve also allegedly admitted that they had previously improvised gas bombs, throwing one at a billboard.
Haug and Shreve turned themselves in Thursday night at the Everett Police Department after law enforcement officers began speaking with people they knew, and one was given a lie-detector test, documents say.
Federal agents started focusing on the two men’s friends after someone called a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tip line identifying Haug and Shreve as possible suspects. One acquaintance who was interviewed worked for the construction company that was building the Gregory, documents say.
Haug and Shreve are expected to appear today in federal court. The arson charge could net each of them between five and 20 years in prison.
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or email@example.com.