OLYMPIA – Police arrested a transient sex offender Friday for allegedly setting a fire at the new City Hall on Thursday that produced extensive smoke residue and for allegedly igniting a fire a day earlier that singed a construction trailer.
Joshua A. Stacy, 20, was arrested about noon Friday at the artesian well at Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street, just a block from the City Hall site in the 600 block of Fourth Avenue, said Olympia police Lt. Steve Oderman. He was held on two counts of second- degree arson and two counts of second-degree burglary.
Police said they located Stacy after receiving information from the state Department of Corrections that Stacy, who must wear a GPS monitoring device because he is a transient Level 3 sex offender, was at the scene of both arsons.
“No doubt he was there,” Oderman said. He added that the GPS device can pinpoint someone’s location within several feet and gives real-time information. “He did make some statements that were incriminating, and we gathered some evidence.”
Asked whether Stacy was the only suspect, Oderman said, “We are looking at all options.”
“If anybody saw anything suspicious during the timelines of those two crimes, we would still like to talk to them,” he said.
Stacy has a lengthy criminal history. He was convicted of first-degree child molestation in Mason County Juvenile Court in 2004. According to public records, he engaged a group of children in play before separating a 3-year-old girl from the group and sexually assaulting her. He has been convicted twice for failing to register as a sex offender, in 2008 and 2009.
Police became aware of arson activity on the site Wednesday, when a construction worker found the side of a construction trailer singed. There was no serious damage. Police stepped up patrols in the area.
Sometime before Thursday morning, someone entered City Hall’s new police squad room, added a chemical accelerant and set it ablaze. “(Expletive) PIGS” was spray-painted on a wall nearby.
Construction workers arriving on the job Thursday reported the fire at 5:34 a.m. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and confined it to one room, but smoke had traveled throughout the first and second floors, and the heat melted wiring that will have to be replaced. It was unclear when the fire started.
City Manager Steve Hall said the city won’t have a damage estimate until late next week. The city is bringing in subcontractors who installed systems such as wiring and air ducts so they can determine whether they need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced.
The city will also bring in an industrial hygienist to make sure the building’s surfaces are safe for workers.
“We’re just not in a position to say what the costs are or what the delay might be,” Hall said.
A private security company has been hired to be on site when construction workers are gone, Hall said.
More than 200 city employees were scheduled to move into the new City Hall early next year, and the project had been on schedule.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org