Mount Vernon, WA– The Mount Vernon Police Department in conjunction with the Fire Marshals office conducted an investigation into the suspicious 2-alarm structure fire at the former College Way Foods building, located at 2120 East College Way around 6:00 p.m. on July 21st, 2023.
According to a probable cause affidavit of arrest obtained through a public disclosure request, Mount Vernon firefighters responded to a reported brush fire at the former College Way Foods Building around 6:00 p.m. on July 21st, 2023. Once on scene, fire personnel were able to successfully extinguish the brush fire and left the scene. At approximately 6:45 p.m., Skagit 9-1-1 received additional reports that the building at the same location was now on fire. Arriving fire units and witnesses reported a male wearing a bright green shirt was flipping off the arriving fire personnel as they arrived back on scene.
Detectives reviewed traffic cameras nearby and determined a subject matching the description of the male in the green shirt had been in the area of the fires just prior to each one starting. During the brush fire, the male was seen crossing the street and watching firefighters put out the fire before they left, where he then returned to the scene and allegedly started the second fire in the building, prior to flipping them off as they arrived. The subject in the green shirt was then seen going to several different places, including McChevron and Martha’s Place, where he told a subject there that the firefighters were “ruining his work.”
During the course of their investigation, detectives walked a field just to the west of College Way Foods, an area where the suspect had been seen coming and going from on traffic cameras during and after the fires. Detectives contacted two subjects in the field who had a small camp set up. One of these subjects was identified as Gary Alan Daigle. Mr. Daigle was taken into custody early the next morning and transported to the Skagit County Community Justice Center where he was interviewed after he was read his constitutional rights.
According to court documents, during the interview, Daigle explained how the people at the fruit stand would not leave the property and they just kept returning day after day. Daigle told detectives that he believed he was the owner of the College Way Foods property, and the fruit stand people would not leave. He told detectives that he felt like murdering the people at the fruit stand but decided not to. Instead, he started two fires to force them off the property. He told detectives that his intention was for the black soot from the fire to ruin the fruit at the fruit stand and force the people at the fruit stand to leave the property. Daigle also stated that he owned the Martha’s Place Building and was angry and upset that the staff would not let him enter the building. He told detectives that if he had a nuclear bomb, he would drop it right on Martha’s place because he is upset about what is happening there. There was a brush fire in front of Martha’s Place on July 17th, 2023. That fire remains under investigation. Daigle initially admitted to setting that fire as well, but later changed his story and told detectives he couldn’t remember if he had or not.
Gary Alan Daigle Remains Jailed at the Skagit County Community Justice Center in lieu of $250,000 Bond for charges of Arson 1st Degree and Arson 2nd Degree.