Affidavit: Man poured gasoline on ex-girlfriend’s couch, started - KPTV - FOX 12

Affidavit: Man poured gasoline on ex-girlfriend’s couch, started deadly NE Portland fire

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Ryan Thomas Monaco, jail booking photo Ryan Thomas Monaco, jail booking photo
Deadly apartment fire in northeast Portland on Sunday. (KPTV) Deadly apartment fire in northeast Portland on Sunday. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A man poured gasoline on his ex-girlfriend’s couch and started a fire that killed her two roommates in a northeast Portland apartment, according to court documents.

Ryan Thomas Monaco, 28, was arrested Thursday on charges of aggravated murder and arson.

Firefighters responded to the Camp Manor Apartments on the 9800 block of Northeast Glisan Street at around 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

A woman told investigators she was involved in a relationship with Monaco, but she had a restraining order against him and he was not supposed to be at her apartment.

The woman said she had been out with Monaco on Saturday night at “more than one bar” and they ended up back at her apartment, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The affidavit states the woman left her apartment after an argument with Monaco and he then called and texted her, eventually saying he had had soaked her couch with gasoline and “it was the first to burn.”

The woman told police Monaco knew there were two other male roommates that slept in the apartment, according to court documents.

One man was found dead in the entryway to the apartment and a second man was found dead in a bedroom after the fire was put out. Firefighters also discovered a dead dog and reptiles.

A witness told detectives she had food delivered early Sunday morning and noticed Monaco’s distinctive car in the parking lot. She later looked out the window to find the car was gone and an apartment was on fire, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The affidavit states surveillance video showed a car resembling Monaco’s car pulling into the parking lot, a man getting out and walking to the apartment and then leaving in the car right before the apartment becomes visibly engulfed in massive flames.

Court documents state investigators determined the fire was arson and an “accelerant” was used on the couch and the only staircase in the apartment leading up to three bedrooms.

A warrant was issued for Monaco’s arrest. Court documents state he initially denied being at the apartment when the fire started, but later admitted he was very angry and poured gasoline on the woman’s couch.

He claimed he inadvertently started the fire when he lit a cigarette outside the apartment, according to a probable cause affidavit.

“According to an arson detective, defendant’s explanation of how the fire started is unlikely,” the affidavit states.

The father of one of the victims confirmed to FOX 12 on Friday that his son, 24-year-old Taher Alhaji, died in the fire. Alhaji was from Saudi Arabia and he was in Oregon on scholarship to study at Portland State University.

PSU released a statement Friday evening saying, "The Portland State community is deeply saddened by this tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with Taher's family." 

The second victim was identified Friday evening by police as 42-year-old Jason Miller. 

Monaco is in jail without bail. He was arraigned in court Friday and is scheduled to next appear in court on Aug. 7.

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