A man sought in a fire that destroyed a food-products warehouse and killed four firefighters was believed headed back to Seattle from California to surrender, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Allen Ressler, representing Martin Pang, said he spoke with his client on Monday. Pang indicated he would drive from the Los Angeles area back to Seattle to meet with his lawyer and turn himself in, Ressler said.
“My gut tells me he’s on his way up here to Seattle,” Ressler said.
King County senior deputy prosecutor Tim Bradshaw said Pang should turn himself in to Seattle detectives.
Pang, 39, has been sought in and around Los Angeles since Feb. 4 on a federal warrant charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is wanted for questioning in the arson fire that destroyed Mary Pang’s Food Products Inc. on Jan. 5.
The warehouse was owned by Pang’s parents, Harry and Mary Pang of Mercer Island.
The warrant was issued by a federal magistrate who ruled there was probable cause to find that Pang was involved in the arson and that he crossed state lines to avoid prosecution.
Ressler said it wasn’t until Monday that prosecutors showed him the warrant.
Assistant Police Chief Jim Deschane wouldn’t say why authorities didn’t divulge the warrant sooner.
“We’ve asked to meet with Martin - including last week - we’ve made those requests. The representation for Mr. Pang has insisted upon seeing an actual warrant,” Deschane said Tuesday. “That has been provided and now we understand efforts are being made to bring him in.”
Officially, law-enforcement authorities describe Pang only as a “person of interest” in the case. Several media reports have quoted unidentified sources as saying Pang is suspected of planning the blaze.
Pang, through his lawyers, has denied any involvement in the fire and plans to turn himself in so he can prove his innocence, Ressler said.
“He is for any plan that will result in clearing his name as soon as possible,” the attorney added.
Pang was spotted at a Southern California beach community on Sunday but federal agents missed arresting him by about 10 minutes, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said.
Ressler said the warrant probably contains some details about the fire. The document has been sealed partly for fear of endangering any witnesses that might be identified before Pang is in custody, investigators have said.
A King County Superior Court judge ordered Monday that at least three search warrants obtained by police investigating the fire also remain sealed until Feb. 21 or until criminal charges are filed.
The warrants were for searches at the burned-out building, a storage locker rented by Martin Pang and at least one undisclosed location.
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