Home Community Arson at Seattle Betsuin Leaves Extensive Damage

Arson at Seattle Betsuin Leaves Extensive Damage

By NAP staff
The North American Post

A New Year’s Eve arson attack on Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple has caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage and forced the temple’s temporary closure. But perhaps the worst result of the crime is that historic archives dating back to 1901 were lost in the fire and damaged by smoke and water as firefighters put out the blaze.

Police apprehended the suspect, Waylon James Williams, 42, after he left the church and broke into a nearby home on New Year’s Eve night. Upon arrest, he claimed that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and ran into the church because he thought the federal government was chasing him. He went to the basement and started throwing around bottles of propane and alcohol, starting the fire, he told police.

No one was injured in the attack, and the main hall and ossuary were not burned, but damage from smoke and soot spread throughout the temple.

The temple had to close just ahead of its New Year’s Day services. It remains closed while the temple focuses on raising money for repairs.

Donations to the temple’s restoration fund are being accepted at the following website: https://seattlebetsuin.org/fire

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The North American Post is a community newspaper that celebrates Japanese culture in the Greater Seattle area. Founded by 1st generation Japanese-Americans in 1902, the publication is one of the oldest minority-owned newspapers in the region. Today, with bilingual articles in English and Japanese, the publication connects readers with diverse cultural backgrounds to Seattle’s Japanese community. Our articles include local news, event calendars, restaurant reviews, Japanese cooking recipes, community interviews, and more.