ATLANTA – Atlanta police are investigating after a woman tried to burn down Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace.
The police said Channel 2 Action News were called to King’s birth home on Auburn Ave. near the King Center shortly after 5:45 p.m.
When they arrived, they found that two off-duty NYPD officers who had been visiting the center were holding a suspect until they could arrive.
Police say two tourists from Utah who were in the area saw the woman pouring gasoline into the house and interrupted her.
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“That action saved an important part of American history tonight,” said Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum.
Video of a witness shared with Channel 2’s Michael Doudna shows a woman dressed all in black pouring gasoline on the windows and into the bushes of the house.
Police said they arrested a 26-year-old woman and charged her with criminal attempted arson and criminal attempted interference with government property.
Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry said that if witnesses had not intervened, the house could have 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 attorney’s offices, the ATF and the FBI.
Because King’s home is federal property, he could face more federal charges.
The King Center issued the following statement:
“Tonight, an unfortunate incident occurred at the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when an individual attempted to set fire to this historic property. Fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful thanks to the brave intervention of the good Samaritans and the quick response of the authorities. We thank the Atlanta Police Department, the Atlanta Fire Department, the National Park Service, and Mayor Andre Dickens for leading efforts to ensure the safety of our treasured national monument and its adjacent neighbors. “Our prayers are with the person who allegedly committed this criminal act.”
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