Two men arrested after arson at Bethel Tavern | Update
February 11, 2012 · Updated 10:20 AM
Two Port Orchard men who were kicked out of the Bethel Tavern on Thursday night because they were intoxicated and harassing customers were arrested later in connection with an arson incident at the bar.
Kitsap County Sheriff's deputies arrested a 41-year-old man and booked him for arson, with bail set at $1 million. The other man, 26, was charged with rendering criminal assistance, and his bail was set at $25,000.
According to deputies' reports and charging documents filed in Kitsap County District Court, someone threw gasoline on the back of the building and then threw the gas can inside a wood shed attached to the rear of the building, causing an explosion and fire around 11:30 p.m. at the tavern in the 3800 block of Bethel Road SE. There were numerous patrons in the tavern at the time.
According to deputies reports, the suspects had been with two other men earlier Thursday night at Tommy C's but were kicked out of the bar when the 41-year-old suspect got into an altercation with security staff. The suspect and the truck he was driving were later identified on surveillance video from the bar.
Bethel Tavern owner Dan Stewart told deputies the same man was highly intoxicated and beligerent when he was in the bar with three other men, and they were told to leave.
Shortly after the arson, a witness reported a truck matching the description of the suspect's lifted pickup traveling at a high rate of speed west on Salmonberry Road from Bethel Road, and it then hit a stop sign near Ramsey Road.
The two suspects are neighbors, and when deputies contacted the younger man at his residence, he told them he was with the other man when they dropped off the two men who had been with them. The older suspect then drove to a gas station to fill a gas can, and drove back to Bethel Tavern.
The younger suspect told deputies he saw the other man pour gas on the building and then enter the back door carrying the gas can. When the suspect ran out of the building, the other man saw flames and smoke coming from inside. They then ran to the truck and left the area.
Stewart said when heard the explosion and saw flames, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and others in the bar formed a bucket brigade to help fight the fire until South Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews arrived. The fire did not cause extensive damage and was contained to the attached shed.