A bronze firefighter’s helmet and turnout jacket is mounted on a bench at a Gary Parks memorial outside the Everett Community College library. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

A bronze firefighter’s helmet and turnout jacket is mounted on a bench at a Gary Parks memorial outside the Everett Community College library. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

The community reacts to a guilty plea in the 1987 fatal fire

Firefighter Gary Parks “was a trusted partner and friend you could always count on.”

“Guilty, your honor.”

Elmer Nash, admitting Thursday that as a 12-year-old he set the 1987 fire at the Everett Community College library that killed Everett firefighter Gary Parks

“Gary was a trusted partner and friend you could always count on. He was there to help a daughter fix her car, help a wife put on her ski boots and never had a day he didn’t show up to work his shift at the Everett Fire Department. We are so very grateful to the detectives who never gave up on this case. Our family will always suffer knowing Gary hasn’t reaped the fruits of his life, grandchildren, daughters’ successes, and a wife who will cherish him forever.”

—Kathy Parks, wife of Gary Parks

“This case reminds us how devastatingly tragic a fire can be. Particularly one intentionally set. It also reminds us that the flames of justice are not easily extinguished and that perseverance has a way of rewarding those who choose not to give up. The fact that we are able to bring charges in this matter is a testament to the very good and important work our county’s law enforcement agencies are doing every day to serve and protect us all. My office looks forward to fairly, firmly and ethically prosecuting this case on behalf of the citizens of Snohomish County.”

—Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell

“What was found in that day of loss was student, staff, faculty and community strength to rebuild what was lost and to remember with honor and sadness Everett Firefighter Gary Parks,”

Bob Drewel, president of EvCC at the time of the fire

“The generation of Everett Firefighters who worked with Gary have retired, but the memory of his loss is woven into the culture of the Everett Fire Department. All Everett Firefighters, active and retired, are thankful for the progress in this case. Our thoughts are with his family today. We are also profoundly thankful to our brothers and sisters in law enforcement for their tenacity and dedication to investigate this case.”

—Everett Fire Chief Dave DeMarco

“Everett Police Department investigators never wavered from their commitment to help bring justice for the Parks family. We never stopped looking at this case and I am very proud of Detective Atwood’s work and his relentless pursuit of justice for the family that ultimately led to the identification and charging of a suspect.”

—Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman

Firefighter Gary Parks died in an arson at Everett Community College on Feb. 16, 1987. (City of Everett)

Firefighter Gary Parks died in an arson at Everett Community College on Feb. 16, 1987. (City of Everett)

“After 34 years, the City of Everett will finally see someone held accountable for the loss of our firefighter Gary Parks, who died in the service of our community. I commend our city teams for working tirelessly to crack the case and continue towards resolution in this tragic event.”

—Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin

“As the daughter of a firefighter, my heart is with the Parks family, Everett firefighters and Everett police. Thank you to the Everett police, Everett Fire Department and all the investigators who worked on the case for never giving up.”

—EvCC President Daria Willis

“That was really the hub of the campus … (Recovery) was an entire campus effort, student, staff and faculty. It was a long healing process.”

—Rich Haldi, a retired EvCC administrator who was director of student activities in 1987

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