Man Pleads Guilty to ‘Reckless Burning’ of Bellevue’s Islamic Center of the Eastside

The Center will hold a meeting next week to discuss reconstruction efforts.

A homeless man charged with burning down the Eastside’s largest mosque pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless burning on Sept. 15.

King County prosecutors initially charged Isaac Wayne Wilson, 37, with second-degree arson. He’s been held on $1 million bail since Bellevue police arrested him Jan. 14 for his part in a fire that caused significant damage to the Islamic Center of the Eastside, 14700 Main St.

In his guilty plea, Wilson states he recklessly caused damage to a building owned by the Islamic Center of the Eastside by knowingly causing a fire.

Wilson will be sentenced on Friday, Oct. 13 in King County Superior Court. A standard sentencing range for first-degree reckless burning is between 3-8 months with a maximum term of 5 years and a $10,000 fine.

On the night of the fire, a resident of Summerfield Apartments called 911 to report the center was up in flames. A Bellevue police officer at the scene and saw a man lying on the ground about 100 feet from the building. When he approached him, the man, later determined to be Wilson, told the officer, “I did it.”

When the officer questioned if he was the one who lit the fire, Wilson mumbled to himself, and stared at the fire.

After learning Wilson had a Seattle warrant out for his arrest, Bellevue police took him into custody. Officers later smelled gasoline on his clothing and shoes, which became evidence.

While in jail, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, the Bellevue Fire Department and Bellevue police conducted an investigation that determined the fire was started by arson. Investigators located a gas can, a water jug and video surveillance, all pointing to Wilson as the suspect.

In a review of Wilson’s criminal history, prosecutors learned he was convicted of fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct in 2016 for an assault on a member of the Islamic Center for the Eastside.

In a December run-in with police, Wilson told officers he had schizophrenia. In the past, members of the Eastside Islamic community tried to help Wilson and pay for his medications because he couldn’t, as he was homeless.

“The impacts of this crime have left the largest mosque community on the Eastside without a house of worship for its many members,” court documents state. “So, this alleged arson is not his first offense by this defendant against the mosque he targeted in this case, and has had devastating impacts on the community.”

Following the fire, around 500 Bellevue residents filled Sammamish High School’s auditorium to learn about how they could help the Islamic Center of the Eastside rebuild.

This Thursday, Sept. 21, the center will hold their monthly meeting to discuss a construction project to rebuild the mosque. The meeting will focus on the floor plan layouts and will seek feedback from the community.

news@seattleweekly.com

This story first ran in the Bellevue Reporter.

More in News & Comment

A Canadian safe consumption site in Lethbridge. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge
County Plans for Second Safe Drug Site Put on Hold

The move follows intense resistance to the proposal from the suburbs.

David Swaintek stands in front of his junk removal truck. Photo courtesy of Hanna Swaintek/JDog Junk Removal Lake Union
Veteran’s Junk Removal Franchise Strives for Environmental Sustainability

In light of China’s recent recycling regulations, JDog Junk Removal could help reduce the burden on landfills.

Photo by Josh Kelety
King County Bans Chewing Tobacco in Sports Stadiums

Advocates say the ban will keep youth athletes from using dip.

King County Council Passes Renter Protections Bill

The legislation is intended to prevent landlords from discriminating based on the source of a prospective tenant’s income.

Westin Hotel workers hold up signs in support of housekeepers’ rights. Photo by Hannah Long-Higgins
Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative Still Awaits Full Rollout

Over a year after voter approval, the law’s framework remains unset and open for public suggestion.

Activists Begin Collecting Signatures for Carbon Fee Initiative

Following inaction from state legislators, supporters of I-1631 are aiming for the November ballot.

An artist rendering of the Tateuchi Center in Bellevue. Courtesy of the Tateuchi Center
County Funding for Eastside Performing Arts Center in Jeopardy

Bellevue’s long-planned Tateuchi Center could lose $1.2 million.

Photo by Atomic Taco/Flickr
What’s Next After I-940?

Police reform advocates pivot their focus to officer’s interactions with people in mental health crises.

Most Read