Sunday, February 28, 2021

Grand Coulee man indicted following fire in Spokane

by Staff report
| January 6, 2021 1:00 AM

SPOKANE — On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney William D. Hyslop of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington announced the indictment of Peter James Yeager, 45, of Grand Coulee, in connection with arson at the Teamsters Building in Spokane. The indictment charges Yeager with damage by fire to a building used in interstate and foreign commerce.

According to state court documents, on Dec. 9, 2020, Yeager drove from his home in Grand Coulee to Spokane with a preconceived plan to burn down the office of the Spokane County Democrats, 1912 N. Division St., Suite 100, Spokane, in the Teamsters Building. Yeager entered the building and told multiple individuals he encountered that he had a “bomb.”

Although Yeager had fashioned miscellaneous items in such a way that it would appear he possessed an explosive device, Yeager was determined to not actually possess a completed “bomb.” Yeager did, however, possess gasoline, oil, a roll of toilet paper, and a camping lighter, which he had brought with him. Using paper he located in the hallway, along with the gasoline, oil, toilet paper and lighter, Yeager is alleged to have started a fire within the internal office of the Spokane County Democrats, which resulted in damage to multiple offices in the Teamsters Building.

“Endangering others in this manner and starting this fire must be addressed,” Hyslop said. “Damage by fire to a building used in interstate commerce is a federal crime. If proved, it is punishable by a minimum 5-year term of imprisonment up to a 20-year term of imprisonment; a $250,000 fine; and a 3-year term of court supervision following any term of imprisonment.”

“Operating 24 hours a day, joint terrorism task forces gather the resources, skills, and information of various federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to safeguard our communities,” said Earl D. Camp, Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge, Seattle Field Office. “The Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force’s swift actions, especially by our partners at Spokane Police Department, averted an already hazardous situation from spiraling dangerously out of control.”

The charge and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Independent charges have also been filed by the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney.