A woman is accused of trying to burn down Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday.
A pair of off-duty New York City Police officers and tourists from Utah intervened when they came upon the scene, Fox 5 reported Friday:
— New York Post (@nypost) December 8, 2023
Atlanta police chief Darin Schierbaum said the woman was allegedly pouring what smelled like gasoline on the house.
Video footage shows the woman, dressed in dark clothing, on the porch with a large red gas can.
“What are you doing?” someone behind the camera asked her. “Huh?” she responded. Then the person with the camera told her the liquid was gasoline.
The clip then cuts to two people calmly holding the woman on the ground while the group waits for police to arrive on the scene.
“Nobody’s trying to hurt you. We just want to make sure the house, nothing happens to it,” the person behind the camera told her:
People at the scene told law enforcement they took action when the woman allegedly tried to ignite a lighter.
The two off-duty NYPD officers detained the woman until local police arrived to take over the situation:
This woman attempted to burn down the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr 😳 pic.twitter.com/wif1AbzcaP
— ATL Uncensored (@ATLUncensored) December 8, 2023
“Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry says with the fuel down, it could have been just a matter of seconds before the structure caught fire,” the Fox report stated.
The suspect has been identified as Laneisha Shantrice Henderson, 26. Officials booked her into Fulton County Jail. She now faces charges of arson in the second degree and interfering with government property.
A mugshot shows the suspect in the case:
— Atlanta News First (@ATLNewsFirst) December 8, 2023
The Fox report also noted that “Federal charges could be possible.”
According to the National Park Service website’s page regarding the National Historic Park in Georgia, “After Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 plans were begun to restore the house as a historic museum.”
“Today visiting the home where Dr. King was born and lived the first twelve years of his life is often the highlight of ones [sic] visit to the park,” the site reads.