Attempt To Burn Down MLK Jr Birthplace Thwarted

( – The home where Martin Luther King Jr. was born was seconds away from going up in flames on December 7 in Atlanta, Georgia. The would-be arsonist was dousing the home with gasoline but was stopped by two off-duty NYPD police officers and tourists.

Just as she was attempting to ignite a lighter, the bystanders intervened and likely saved the home from total destruction. Laneisha Shantrice Henderson, 26, was arrested and taken to the Fulton County Jail. According to the police report, Henderson also underwent a psychological evaluation at a nearby hospital. She was charged with second-degree attempted arson. She is also facing another charge for interfering with government property. The National Park Service owns and operates the historic home.

Videos of the attempted arson were widely circulated on social media. Viewers could hear a person behind the camera asking Henderson, “What are you doing?” Another clip of the incident showed the bystanders restraining Henderson while they waited for the police to arrive. One person can be heard telling her that they were not trying to hurt her, that they just wanted to “make sure the house, nothing happens to it.” Henderson could face federal charges as well. Just two days after the incident, the New York Post reported that Henderson was a veteran of the United States Navy. She served as a surface warfare specialist and was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct medal, and many other awards.

Fox News 5 reported that Henderson was denied bond when she appeared in a Fulton County court on December 9. Magistrate Judge Holly Hughes noted that she provided an out-of-state address during booking and was concerned that she would not come back for her scheduled court date. Hughes also said that it did not appear that Henderson chose Martin Luther King Jr’s birthplace for a specific reason, indicating that she thought it was a random act. The home is located in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn Historic District and has been closed for renovations set to be completed by 2025.

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