Police are appealing to the public for information about two men that assaulted a hotel owner and set the building alight with people sleeping inside.
Around 12:30am on Friday 13 May the owner and manager of Albany’s historic Premier Hotel was grabbed by two bandits as he took out garbage.
The men dragged the owner back into the hotel, where they made him hand over a “large sum of money” before forcing him to watch them set the hotel on fire.
The owner sustained minor injuries, but when the men fled – in a grey mini-van – he rushed back into the building to alert and evacuate the residents sleeping inside. He was subsequently taken to hospital, and released a few hours later.
Three fire crews battled the blaze for over four hours, and Police report the hotel, built in 1891, was “fairly gutted”. The full extent of the damage has not been determined, but estimated to be over $1 million.
WA detectives are hunting the men seen in the CCTV footage and have appealed to the public for any information.
“Clearly they have no regard for the safety of those people inside,” said Superintendent Dominic Wood.
“This could have been a tragic incident. We could have had lives lost and that’s why I am appealing to anybody that has information at all about what has taken place.”
The hotel’s co-owners (Graeme and Rumeena) are reportedly devastated at the loss of their business and threat to the residents. They thank emergency services and the community for support, and have requested privacy for all involved.