MLK Jr.’s Atlanta birth home tried to be set on fire

“Quick action, saved the jewel of our city, something very important to Atlanta,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said.

ATLANTA — A woman is facing charges including attempted arson after allegedly trying to set Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home on fire Thursday evening, according to the Atlanta Police Department. 

Atlanta Police said officers responded to the home shortly after 5:45 p.m. The home, located at 501 Auburn Ave. NE in Atlanta’s historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood, has been temporarily closed for rehabilitation work. 

“When we arrived, we believe there were two, what we believe to be off-duty NYPD officers, who were visiting the center who had the individual detained,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said.

Video obtained by 11Alive shows what appears to be the woman standing on the porch of the home and pouring what appears to be gasoline on the house. In the second part of the video, you can see what is believed to be the two off-duty NYPD officers detaining the woman until Atlanta Police arrive.

Schierbaum added that APD’s investigation revealed there were also two people who were visiting Atlanta from Utah who had seen the woman allegedly pouring gasoline on the porch of the home.

“There were quick action. Saved the jewel of our city, something very important to Atlanta,” Schierbaum said. 

Schierbaum said a 26-year-old woman has been taken into custody, and she faces charges including criminal attempt arson and criminal attempt interference with government property.

APD said it’s in the process of coordinating with the District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and its Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Schierbaum said the woman will have to appear in court. 

Atlanta Fire Batallion Chief Jerry DeBerry added the department will bring in its hazmat team to make sure the home is deemed safe. You can watch Schierbaum and DeBerry’s full interview below: 

The King Center released the following statement in response: 

The King Center released a statement regarding the recent attempt to set fire to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home pic.twitter.com/q499vpzTji

— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) December 8, 2023

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.

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