ATLANTA – Atlanta police are investigating after a woman tried to burn down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace.
Police said Channel 2 Action News They were called to King’s birthplace on Auburn Ave., near the King Center, just after 5:45 p.m.
When they arrived, two off-duty NYPD officers who had gone to the center found a suspect being detained until they arrived.
Police say two tourists from Utah who were in the area saw the woman pouring gasoline on the house and interrupted her.
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“That action saved an important piece of American history tonight,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said.
A video of a witness was shared Channel 2’s Michael Doudna A woman dressed in black is shown pouring gasoline on the windows of a house and bushes.
A 26-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with attempted criminal arson and trespassing on government property, police said.
Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry said if witnesses hadn’t intervened, the house would have burned to the ground in seconds.
“It was probably 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, the woman faces additional federal charges.
The King Center issued the following statement:
“Tonight, an unfortunate incident occurred at the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. An individual attempted to set fire to this historic property. Fortunately, thanks to the brave intervention of good Samaritans and the quick response of law enforcement, the attempt was foiled. We thank the Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Fire Department, National Park Service and Mayor Andre Dickens for their efforts to ensure the safety of our beloved national landmark and its immediate neighbors. Our prayers go out to the person who allegedly committed this crime.
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