Dori: Man arrested in Seattle arson case a homeless frequent offender

Feb 28, 2019, 3:03 PM
A four-alarm fire burns in North Queen Anne, arson...
The Gascoigne Lumber Company fire in November was arson. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

A man named Matthew Hooper has now been charged with second-degree arson for that string of fires to businesses in Fremont, Ballard, and Queen Anne late last year. Hooper is — surprise, surprise — a 38-year-old homeless guy.

I have to ask the question of Jenny Durkan, of Dow Constantine, of Jay Inslee. What is it going to take before you stop embracing policies that encourage as much homelessness as possible?

On Wednesday I talked to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who said that he doesn’t have the prosecutors or the jail space to lock up all the criminals out there. There is absolutely no way that Matthew Hooper should have been a free man out on the streets. He had six convictions over 13 years — assault, harassment, trespass, property destruction.

I have the charging papers for Matthew Hooper, and from the content, it’s unbelievable that this guy was allowed by our politicians to roam the streets of Seattle. As we told you earlier this week, 100 people in this region have committed 3,500 crimes — that’s 35 per person. We have got to stop locking up these prolific offenders. Here is what prosecutors noted in his charging papers:

Even more concerning than the extensive damage caused at the Lumber yard, Elks Club, and Seattle Gymnastics, was the defendant’s alarming decision to light a fire in a carport underneath an apartment building, where several residents lived [sic]. Had the Seattle Fire Department not responded so promptly, the defendant could have burned down the occupied apartment building where many residents would still have been sleeping.

RELATED: Seattle Elks Lodge #92 to close half a year after devastating fire

Is that what it’s going to take — a mass murder — before our politicians start doing something about the mentally-ill, drug-addicted people who have taken over the region and massively increased the crime on the streets?

You may recall, I talked to the owner of the lumberyard that burned down, Dave Gascoigne. This arson had unbelievable consequences in jobs lost and hundred-year-old family businesses destroyed. Besides the Elks lodge and lumberyard, Hooper allegedly is responsible for the fires at a restaurant, office complex, and gymnasium.

The alleged arsonist gave investigators his address as the Ballard Food Bank. According to court documents, Hooper admitted to arson, told investigators that he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and said he had started the fires to “protect himself.”

So clearly, he is an incredibly mentally disturbed guy whom the system had been in contact with on many, many occasions over the last 13 years. And we keep turning him out on the streets to commit arson and many other crimes.

It could very well, one of these days, lead to a mass murder. This could have been one. And when it happens, Gov. Inslee will talk about what a tragedy the fire was. Mayor Durkan will say, “That’s not what we are as a city.” Hey Mayor Durkan, maybe that is what we are as a city, and maybe you are a complete utter failure as the mayor of this city.

Prosecutor Satterberg, we have got to start locking these people up. Your office doesn’t have enough money? Let’s take some of the $100,000 per homeless person per year we’re spending right now and start opening more jails, hiring more prosecutors, and locking people up, before something more dangerous occurs. What is it going to take?

We’ve got a bunch of bleeding hearts telling us over and over again that all we need is more tax money. A head tax on Amazon, a property tax increase from you. If you do that, things will be better.

We’re spending more on homeless people than any city in the country, per capita, and things have gotten worse. Why? The homelessness industrial complex is not about saving lives, it’s not about changing lives, and it’s not about helping the most desperate. It is about the people who run the business that is homelessness. That’s what this is all about.

We are fools if we give them another penny. But we are equally great fools if we don’t demand that they take the money we’re already spending — since the majority of people on the streets don’t want services and have chosen a lifestyle on the streets — and force people into rehab or, if they refuse, jail. We have to stop allowing this to just continue.

We could be better than this, but your stewardship is a failure, Jenny Durkan. Seattle Police has to hire more cops. Prosecutor Satterberg, you’ve got to start prosecuting the cases the cops bring to you. Jay Inslee, go run the country with your presidential announcement. I’m sure you’ll do as great a job for America as you’re doing for our region.

This is on all of our public officials. Sadly, one of these days, there might be a mass murder because of our elected officials’ failure of leadership. There could have been one, in this case.

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Dori: Man arrested in Seattle arson case a homeless frequent offender