A 26-year-old woman was arrested in Atlanta on Thursday for allegedly attempting to set fire to the birth home of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The suspect, identified as Laneisha Shantrice Henderson, faces charges of second-degree arson and interfering with government property.
“The arrestee has been identified as Laneisha Shantrice Henderson (DOB 9/97/). She was charged with Attempted Arson (2nd Degree) And Interfering with Government Property,” according to the press release.
Laneisha Shantrice Henderson (Atlanta Police Department)
According to the Atlanta Police, officers responded to a vandalism report around 5:45 p.m. on December 7, 2023. Upon arrival, they found Henderson being restrained by bystanders, including tourists from Utah and two off-duty New York City Police Department officers.
The preliminary investigation suggests that Henderson was pouring gasoline onto the property.
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum and Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry praised the bystanders’ quick action, stating that it prevented a significant historical site from being destroyed.
Chief Schierbaum remarked to WSB-TV that the intervention “saved an important part of American history.”
Henderson was taken to Grady Detention for evaluation and will subsequently be transferred to Fulton County Jail. Given the federal status of King’s home, she may also face federal charges.
The King Center issued a statement acknowledging the incident and expressing gratitude towards the law enforcement and the good Samaritans who averted the potential tragedy.
“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,” told WSB-TV.
“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.”
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
JUST IN: A woman has been charged after trying to burn down Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta.
26-year-old Laneisha Shantrice Henderson was arrested and charged.
Thankfully, two tourists from Utah noticed Henderson trying to burn down the home and jumped into… pic.twitter.com/cSlrNfaknO
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 8, 2023