The police say that people nearby stopped a woman from setting Martin Luther King Jr’s home on fire in Atlanta, Georgia.
Authorities said that quick action “saved a valuable piece of American history”.
The person who is being accused is in jail and is being charged with setting fire to a building by allegedly pouring gasoline on it.
Dr King lived in a two-story house for the first 12 years of his life, and now it’s a very important historical place.
The National Park Service bought the inside of the building in 2018. It’s been closed to the public for repairs and updates since last month.
Police went to the historic district on Auburn Avenue when they heard about vandalism happening at around 5:45pm local time on Thursday. This information was shared by the Atlanta police in a news release.
A video was shared with the local WSB-TV news channel that shows a woman wearing all black pouring liquid on the porch and front windows of the house.
When the police got there, the suspect had already been stopped by two filmmakers from Utah and two off-duty police officers from New York who were also visiting the home, according to Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum.
One of the movie makers, Zach Kempf, said to the New York Times that at first he thought the woman was watering bushes in front of the house, but then she quickly went up the stairs and pulled on the front screen door.
She didn’t say anything when they asked what she was doing. She poured out the stuff from a big container and threw it into the bushes. Then, she picked up a lighter from the grass. “Mr Kempf, who is 43 years old, said the woman seemed anxious but not hostile. She walked away after he stood in front of her. ”
He called 911 and shouted for help to two New York officers. They chased and caught the suspect, holding her until the local police came.
The woman’s father and three sisters said she has been struggling with mental problems for a long time, Mr. Kempf told the Times.
The person who was accused of a crime was getting a check-up on their mental health before going to the local jail, the police said on Thursday night.
She might get in more trouble with the government for what she did.
The fire department said the home wasn’t damaged and a special team is cleaning up the area.
Fire chief Jerry DeBerry said if the witnesses hadn’t been there to stop her, the house could have been on fire very soon.
“It was mostly about having the right timing and the right people to see what happened. ”
The King Center said that someone tried to start a fire but couldn’t because of brave people helping and the police acting quickly.
“We are praying for the person who is accused of committing this crime,” it added.