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Warehouse Fire Witnesses Afraid Prosecutors Want Documents Kept Sealed Until Pang Arrested

Thu., Feb. 23, 1995

The King County prosecutor’s office has asked the court to keep sealed the documents that detail evidence in a deadly warehouse fire sealed, saying publicity in the case has alarmed some witnesses.

The affidavit filed Tuesday said virtually all of the witnesses who had talked to police called investigators “expressing great fear and alarm” after one batch of documents was released last week by King County Superior Court Judge William Downing.

Police are seeking Martin Pang, 39, for questioning in the Jan. 5 arson at a warehouse owned by his parents.

Four Seattle firefighters died in the blaze, which is being investigated as a homicide.

The affidavit said those who had previously talked to police were concerned Pang would discover they had been cooperating with investigators.

The affidavit by King County Deputy Prosecutor Craig Peterson added:

“Additional witnesses, many of them friends and former business associates of Martin Pang, have come forward and cooperated with the investigators. They too, based on their knowledge of Martin Pang, as well as his history, believe that they would be endangered should Martin Pang discover what they have said.

“It is believed that their fears would be alleviated once Martin Pang is placed in custody.”

One of Pang’s attorneys, John Henry Browne, said Tuesday night he still hopes to persuade his client to surrender.

Browne answered “no comment” when asked whether Pang was in the United States or whether he had met with Pang in Mexico last week, when Browne made a vacation trip there.

He did say that his colleague, attorney Allen Ressler, had talked with Pang as recently as Friday.

Browne said it is “certainly our intention” to have Pang turn himself in to answer a federal fugitive warrant seeking him in the fire that destroyed the Mary Pang Food Products warehouse.

Pang “has listened” to his attorneys in past conversations, Browne said.

He would not say whether Pang indicated he intended to turn himself in.

Meanwhile, a nationally syndicated television show that seeks the public’s help in finding fugitives will air a segment on Pang.

A crew from “America’s Most Wanted” is scheduled to be in Seattle this week to interview firefighters and investigators.

The television show was contacted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which has been searching for Pang in the Los Angeles area.

“I don’t know what our track record is with them, but, logically speaking, more people who see his face on TV could possibly give us more leads,” said ATF agent John D’Angelo in Los Angeles.

Tags: Arson, crime

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