Mystery deepens into identity of Good Samaritan in Whyte Avenue arson spree
More than three days after an arson spree in central Edmonton, the local folklore continues to grow around the Good Samaritans who helped take the suspect down.
Thirteen vehicles were set on fire along 104 Street and Whyte Avenue by a man who was later stopped by Good Samaritans inside a coffee shop. The incident created chaos for a short period of time on one of Edmonton’s busiest streets.
Hawaiian Shirt Guy and 2×4 Guy are the names the Internet has bestowed upon the two Good Samaritans. While 2×4 Guy has been identified as Jeff Halaby, the mystery continues to grow around the identity of Hawaiian Shirt Guy.
“It’s a very Edmonton thing really,” Mark Wilson, co-owner of Vivid Prints on Whyte Avenue, said of the nicknames.
“Edmonton celebrates our quirkiness. I think that’s the joy of being here.”
Wilson said surveillance video of the alley behind his store shows a man near a Sea-Can throwing what appears to be a Molotov cocktail on the ground while a jerry can on the ground. The man leaves then returns to pick up the jerry can before walking out of the frame.
The time on the video, according to Wilson, was approximately 8:25 p.m. Police started responding to incidents of multiple vehicles on fire at around 8:40 p.m.
The incident is slowing entering local folklore, with memes of the Good Samaritans popping up on social media.
— Duncan Paterson (DFP) (@DuncanDriveHome) April 15, 2019
“Hawaiian shirt guy” and “2×4 guy,” true Canadian heroes (9 Photos and GIFs) pic.twitter.com/UFTztKe1tC
— kioskobeta (@kioskobeta) April 15, 2019
Hawaiian shirt guy is a hero. The one Edmonton deserves pic.twitter.com/GBDPASbBkX
— 🇨🇦Victor🇨🇦 (@PlayPossum11) April 14, 2019
“People are willing to put their neck on the line to stop something that could potentially become something bigger,” Wilson said.
“I think it reinforces — rather than focus on the negative aspect of this, I think it’s really shown the positive side of our community.”
Russ Kennedy, general manager of the Army and Navy Store, said the spree was “pretty wild.”
“Nothing really scares me on Whyte Avenue but that’s a little scary. It’s pretty close to home,” he said.
The Army and Navy Store sells Hawaiian shirts, but there were only two left on the racks on Monday.
Kennedy said the shirts had been popular before Friday’s incident, but he said the myth of Hawaiian shirt man doesn’t hurt.
“If it helps the sale of Hawaiian shirts, I’m all for it,” Kennedy said with a smile.
Sugared and Spiced, which shares the same alley as Vivid Print, offered a special deal to customers on Sunday, in honour of Hawaiian Shirt Guy.
Watch below: An arrest was made on a busy Edmonton street Friday night after more than a dozen vehicles were lit on fire in front of witnesses sitting in area bars.
“No one knew who Hawaiian Shirt Guy was and we thought, let’s just say anyone who comes in with a Hawaiian shirt gets a coffee or a cookie. We had a couple dozen people come in [wearing the shirts],” said co-owner Jeff Nachtigall.
Nachtigall said Edmonton has “some characters” and that people like to get behind them.
“We have shirtless rollerblading guy who symbolizes the beginning of spring for a lot of people.
“I think Hawaiian Shirt Guy is bit of a symbol of what people hope they would do in a situation where there is some danger and they could be useful.”
Malice Sutton, 22, now faces several charges, including 11 charges of arson to property of others and assault with a weapon.
Court records reveal Sutton has no previous criminal history.
A bail hearing is set for April 29.
-with files from Jennifer Ivanov