Friday, December 08, 2023 – A woman has been arrested for attempting to burn down Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta.
Video from the attempt shows a woman pouring gasoline on the home’s front porch, windows, and bushes around 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, WSB-TV reported.
Two tourists from Utah viewing the home were able to intervene to stop the suspect, police said.
One witness recalled the suspect began to grow irritated after she was having trouble spreading the fuel around the property, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.
The suspected arsonist was then quickly detained by two off-duty NYPD officers who had been visiting the historical landmark and held her until Atlanta Police arrived.
Police said they were called to King’s birth home on Auburn Ave. near the King Center just after 5:45 p.m. When they arrived, they found two off-duty NYPD officers who had been visiting the center had a suspect detained until they could arrive.
Police say two tourists from Utah who were in the area saw the woman pouring gasoline on the home and interrupted her.
“That action saved an important part of American history tonight,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said.
Police said they have arrested a 26-year-old woman and charged her with criminal attempt arson and criminal attempt interference with government property.
Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry said had the witnesses not intervened, the house could have been burned to the ground in moments.
“It could have been a matter of seconds before the house was engulfed in flames,” DeBerry said.
They say they are working with several district attorneys’ offices, the ATF and the FBI.
Because King’s home is federal property, she could face further federal charges.
The King Center released the following statement:“Tonight, an unfortunate incident occurred at the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an individual attempted to set fire to this historic property. Fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful, thanks to the brave intervention of good Samaritans and the quick response of law enforcement. We thank the Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Fire Department, the National Parks Service, and Mayor Andre Dickens for leading the efforts to ensure the safety of our cherished national landmark and its adjacent neighbors. Our prayers are with the individual who allegedly committed this criminal act.”