Off-Duty NYPD Officers Help Stop Attempted Arson at MLK's Ga. Birth Home

Dec. 8, 2023
Two off-duty NYPD officers visiting the Atlanta birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. held down a woman accused of dousing the house with gasoline until police arrived.

By Tanasia Kenney

Source The Charlotte Observer

It could’ve been “a matter of seconds” before Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home went up in flames, if not for the quick actions of a few tourists, authorities in Georgia told news outlets.

Now, a 26-year-old woman is charged after Atlanta police said she doused the house with gasoline in an attempt to burn it down.

Officers were called at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, about a vandalism in progress at the historic site in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn district, according to an Atlanta Police Department news release. That’s where they arrested the woman, identified as Laneisha Shantrice Henderson.

Two off-duty New York Police Department officers who were visiting the home held her down until authorities arrived, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum told WSB-TV.

Two other tourists visiting from Utah stepped in when they saw Henderson dousing the home’s front door, porch and shrubbery with what smelled like gas, WAGA reported, citing police.

Quick action saved the jewel of our city, something very important to Atlanta,” Schierbaum told WXIA.

Henderson was charged with second-degree arson and interfering with government property, police said. Authorities didn’t mention a motive and it’s unclear if federal charges are expected.

King’s childhood home was recently closed to the public to undergo renovations, according to WAGA. The restoration project is expected to last through the end of 2025, the station reported.

The King Center addressed the incident in a statement Thursday.

“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,” the center said. “Our prayers are with the individual who allegedly committed this criminal act.”

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©2023 The Charlotte Observer.

Visit charlotteobserver.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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