An attempt was made to set fire to the childhood home of Martin Luther King, Jr. The incident occurred in Atlanta, where a woman allegedly tried to set the house on fire by pouring gasoline on it. However, some good Samaritans intervened and prevented the disaster from happening by stopping the woman before any harm could be done. The Atlanta police have taken the suspect into custody. Now, two off-duty New York police officers and two tourists from Utah are being credited with saving the home.
The incident unfolded on a Thursday evening when Atlanta police responded to reports of vandalism in progress at the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr. This iconic residence is often referred to as a “jewel of the city” by Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum.
Two observant tourists from Utah witnessed the woman pouring gasoline on the plants, porch, and front door of the historic home. Alarmed by her actions, they courageously intervened when she attempted to ignite a lighter. Their quick thinking and bravery helped prevent a potential disaster.
Additionally, two off-duty NYPD officers who happened to be in the area detained the woman until Atlanta Police Department (APD) officers arrived on the scene. Video footage shared with the public shows the woman being apprehended by law enforcement officers.
The potential for catastrophe was high, as the Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry noted that with gasoline present, it could have taken mere seconds for the structure to catch fire. A HAZMAT team from the fire department was dispatched to clean up the spilled gasoline.
Although the identity of the arrested woman has not been disclosed, Chief Schierbaum mentioned that investigators are in contact with her family to assess her mental health. The charges against her include a criminal attempt to commit arson and a criminal attempt to damage government property. The APD is collaborating with the FBI and National Park Service, indicating the possibility of federal charges.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home, located on Auburn Avenue near prominent landmarks such as the King Center, King National Historical Park, and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, has been undergoing extensive renovations for the past few weeks. Originally constructed in 1895, this two-story Queen-Anne-style structure holds immense historical significance in commemorating the early life of the civil rights icon and his siblings.
MLK’s birth home is currently closed due to an ongoing renovation project that addresses critical structural and system improvements, including electrical, HVAC, and fire suppression upgrades, as well as enhancements like additional crawlspaces, window and door repairs, exterior siding and porch renovations, exterior painting, driveway re-paving, foundation re-pointing, replacement of the backyard fence, and drainage improvements. These renovations are expected to continue until the end of 2025, during which time the home will remain closed to the public.