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Woman tries to set fire to Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home, Atlanta police say

Police: Woman tried to set fire to MLK's birth home
Woman arrested for trying to set fire to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Atlanta birth home, police say 00:26

Authorities said a 26-year-old woman has been arrested on allegations she attempted to set fire Thursday night to the Atlanta birth home of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

According to a statement from Atlanta police, at about 5:45 p.m., the suspect poured gasoline on the property, located at 501 Auburn Ave., but was stopped by multiple witnesses from proceeding any further.

Responding officers detained the woman at the scene, police said. She is being held on suspicion of criminal attempted arson and second-degree interference with government property.

Her name was not released. No further details on the incident were immediately provided.

In a statement issued by Martin Luther King III on Friday, the family said they were "distressed" to hear about the attempted arson.

"We appreciate the intervention of several good Samaritans, tourists and off-duty police officers, whose quick thinking and actions averted a tragic loss of such an important symbol of America's civil rights history," the statement says.

The home was acquired for preservation by the National Park Service from the King family in 2018, and had been open for public tours through last month, when it was closed for an "extensive renovation project" that is not expected to be completed until November of 2025.

In a statement Tuesday night, the King Center wrote that "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."

birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
FILE -- People line up to tour the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 27, 2019.  Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
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