Cpl. Ronald Van Tassel
Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 9:12 a.m.
Suspect who set fire at Spokane’s Democratic Headquarters/Teamsters building provides explanation for his actions
45 year old Peter Yeager of Grand Coulee, Washington is charged with 1st Degree Arson following his arrest yesterday for starting a fire at the building in the 1900 block of North Division.
Yeager says he does not align with any political party and was not targeting democrats, rather he was mad at the entire government system and the “elites” within. Yeager added that he does not belong to any radical or political groups and described himself as a “lone wolf”. He stated that he used a Google search to find a political office and the Democratic office was listed first and was the closest to his location. He added that he assumed the Republican office was in Idaho and further away.
Yeager also told investigators he had been thinking about doing something radical for a long time. His hope was to burn down the building but not to hurt anyone and claimed that’s why he tried to get everyone out of the building before starting the fire.
Yeager stated he created a “manifesto” of which he brought a handwritten copy to the building. In part it reads; "Although I have profound respect for the grassroots movements of both the democratic and republican parties, sharing many of their ideals and values, we will continue domestic operations against their ruling elite as they exist in their current form.... Long live the Republic."
The suspect told detectives he is an Iraqi war veteran and suffers from PTSD.
The backpack Yeager wore did not turn out to be a bomb, but contained gasoline and oil used to start the fire.
Yeager remains in the Spokane County Jail. This media release is an update to the following from yesterday.
Original Release 12/9/2020:
On Wednesday morning, a male walked into a north Spokane Office building carrying a backpack. The male indicated he had a bomb, which prompted the evacuation of the building. The male came outside shortly after and was detained by Spokane Police Officers. The male left his backpack inside the building and there was smoke billowing from the office he left it in. Officers cleared the building of any people, set a perimeter and notified the bomb squad. After a couple hours the scene was safe and traffic around the area was able to open back up again.
On the morning of December 9, 2020, an employee inside the Teamsters building at Indiana and Division called 911 to report that a male was inside the building. The employee said that the male was claiming he had a bomb. He was wearing a backpack and it was reported that there were wires hanging out of it. While on the phone with 911, other employee’s started to evacuate the building. The male was inside an office with another employee and the male indicated that he was going to blow the place up.
During this time, numerous Officers responded and surrounded the location. The male suspect exited the building and was taken into custody by Officers. The male was not wearing his backpack when he came out of the building. Officers went inside the building to evacuate anybody who was not able to get out yet. As they entered the building, there was smoke coming out of one of the offices. Once the building was fully evacuated, Officers set up a large perimeter around the area, which included shutting down part of Ruby and all of Indiana and Division. This was done in case there was an explosive device inside the backpack that was ready to detonate. Officers also contacted and evacuated surrounding businesses as a precaution.
The bomb squad responded and were eventually able to determine that there was no explosive device. However, the male did start a fire inside the building and that was the cause of the smoke.
This investigation is still active and will be ongoing.
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