Martin Luther King Birthplace Spared from Arson Attempt

The birth home and former site of the King Center was spared from disaster Thursday afternoon when visiting tourists thwarted an arson attempt by a woman pouring gasoline on the property and was seen attempting to ignite a lighter. The childhood home of the famed civil rights leader located at 501 Auburn Ave. was nearly set aflame by a 26-year-old woman who was consequently wrestled to the ground and detained by out-of-state tourists including a couple from Utah and two off-duty NYPD police officers.

The woman was arrested and charged with criminal attempt to commit arson in the second degree and interference with government property.

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

The King Center released the following statement:

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. 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 Martin Luther King Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change

King’s birth home is owned by the National Park Service. According to the Park Service, it was built in 1895. King was born in the home on Jan. 15, 1929, and lived there until he was 12 years old. The residence was turned into a museum after King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

The woman and suspected arsonist is undergoing psychiatric evaluation while in custody.

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