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Teen pleads guilty to igniting devastating fire at Point Defiance’s pagoda

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Sep. 28, 2011 at 8:24 am with 8 Comments »
September 28, 2011 11:29 am

A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty this morning to setting fire to the historic pagoda in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park earlier this year. The teen also pleaded guilty to a handful of other crimes.

The boy has been held in the Remann Hall juvenile detention center since his arrest in late April in connection with the fire. His sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 11.

Prosecutors had alleged the teen set fire to the pagoda late April 14 or early April 15. A Metro Parks employee spotted the flames about 4 a.m. on April 15.

They also accuse him of breaking into the building on a previous occasion and vandalizing the interior.

Flames heavily damaged the 97-year-old pagoda, the centerpiece of Point Defiance Park’s Japanese garden and the setting for many local weddings and other special events.

Investigators still were seeking a suspect when a Ruston police officer saw the teen riding a bicycle shortly after 1:15 a.m. April 20. The officer knew about the previous fires and stopped the teen, who wore pink gardening gloves and carried a backpack. He was breathing heavily and appeared nervous, court documents state.

The officer checked the backpack and found a one-gallon plastic can full of gasoline. He also found a box of wooden matches and a cellphone in the teen’s pockets.

Asked if he knew why he was stopped, the teen responded, “Yes, because of the fires,” according to the documents. He also told police he was going to the boathouse at the marina, charging documents state.

Investigators later found text messages on his phone implicating him in the pagoda fire, court records show.

The boy was found mentally competent to stand trial on the charges last month.

Information from The News Tribune archives included in this report.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. Rowdy_Rob says:

    Too bad this state is lenient when it comes to these little punks when it comes to crime because they are under 18…this little sh** needs to be locked up until 21.

  2. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Good thing the headline writer is a gud spellar!

  3. itcanonlybejarrod says:

    I hate it when historical architecture is compromised. So much of the structures they put up now are all crappy particle board/pressed wood and molded instead of sculpted, junk. I say give the arsonist 5 years.

  4. Ortingmom says:

    I wonder what sentence this punk will receive in ” Say WA, the hug a thug State”.

  5. whatthehell says:

    repressed aggressions – something is wrong at home for him to do that.

    I remember couple years back some illegals “accidentally” set an historic downtown bldg on fire – burnt to the ground no charges filed.

  6. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    No picture posted. He must have been black. The TNT goes out of it’s way to note tell the truth about the black community in Tacoma.

  7. Get the parents to pay they are the ones raised him and allowed him to be out at that hour.

  8. FullofLife says:

    First of all, there is a privacy act so that is why the picture is not posted…not because he is black. I understand that there is alot of anger about the Pagoda and I am upset as well…but we have no idea what the circumstances are. I think that it is not right to assume nasty things about the parents, TNT, and Washington State. Do you have any evidence to back your accusations? I didn’t think so.

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