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Pullman police arrest Greek Row arson suspect in Cheney

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 17, 2018

By Marco Mccray and Taylor Codomo Murrow News Service

PULLMAN - Police arrested a 19-year-old Cheney man Monday for allegedly starting several fires on Washington State University’s Greek Row.

Isaac S. DePaolo, a 2016 graduate of Gonzaga Prep, is accused of starting fires at a fraternity house, in a dumpster and in a parked car after Saturday’s football game.

Members of Theta Chi awoke early Sunday to the smell of smoke and the sounds of other students yelling and banging on doors. Marcus Garcia, a member of the fraternity, said he was in disbelief when he looked out his window to see a large fire burning a wooden deck beside the house’s basketball court.

“It’s literally life or death,” Garcia recalled yelling to wake up his fellow fraternity members. “Get out of your bed please.”

Firefighters responded to Theta Chi at 5:15 a.m. and put out the fire, which destroyed the deck. Police said investigators discovered several ignition points around the house at 845 N.E. C St.

About an hour earlier, firefighters had responded to a call about a dumpster fire several blocks away at the Tau Kappa Epsilon house, 500 N.E. Colorado St.

Later Sunday morning, Cooper Hawes discovered someone had set fire to the glove box in his car outside the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, across the street from Theta Chi.

Cmdr. Chris Tennant said police obtained surveillance video from numerous sources and learned DePaolo’s name through interviews with Theta Chi members.

The fires followed Washington State’s 59-24 home victory over Eastern Washington University, though police said DePaolo is not a student at either school.

“A motive for the arson has not yet been determined, but it appears that alcohol played a role,” Tennant said in a news release.

Pullman detectives arrested DePaolo in Cheney on Monday with help from Cheney and EWU police. Afterward, he was taken to the Whitman County Jail on charges of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson and vehicle prowling.

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