Obsession led man to set fire to Salt Lake City office building

Sugarhouse Fire
Posted at 1:46 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 15:46:24-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The man accused of setting fire to a Salt Lake City building earlier this month was "obsessed" with woman who owned a business at the location.

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Alexander Kentish Tuita, 37, was charged with multiple counts of stalking, along with aggravated arson for his alleged role in the June 13 fire that destroyed the three-story building at 1104 E. Ashton Avenue.

According to the probable cause statement, a woman told the Unified Police Department that Tuita had been a client of her massage business and that he had been "calling and texting her inappropriate things out of business hours." The woman said Tuita even created a fake Instagram profile of her, and when confronted by the business owner, admitted to doing so because he was obsessed with her.

Tuita allegedly called the woman and challenged her fiance to a fight. Even after the woman notified police, Tuita tried to schedule an appointment online and was denied, police say.

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Another woman who owns a different massage business in the same building was previously granted a civil stalking injunction against Tuita in 2018 that remains active through Dec. 10, 2021.

When approached by fire investigators, Tuita "admitted that the fire on Ashton Avenue was his fault and that he started the fire." He told officials that he poured a full jar of gas onto the building and lit a fire with a lighter.

"Then I ran back to my car without looking back," said Tuita.

Investigators say the fire caused approximately $1.75 million in damages to the building itself, with the damage costs to the nearly 25 businesses inside unknown.