Authorities in Georgia have identified the individual accused of attempting to burn down Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta.

Who is Laneisha Shantrice Henderson?

Laneisha Shantrice Henderson, a resident of Brandon, Florida, has been booked into the Fulton County Jail on charges of Criminal Attempt Arson and Interference with Government Property.

The incident unfolded when police responded to a report of vandalism in progress at the Auburn Ave. home on Thursday evening. A vigilant tourist from Utah observed Henderson pouring gasoline on the porch of the historic residence. Acting promptly, he confronted her and prevented her from igniting the flammable liquid with a lighter. The tourist’s courageous intervention played a crucial role in thwarting the attempted arson.

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As Henderson started to walk away, the tourist, identified as a visitor from Utah named Kempf, alerted two off-duty NYPD officers who happened to be near the King Center. The officers, visiting from New York, detained Henderson until local police arrived, preventing potential further harm.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum commended the swift and brave response of the individuals involved, stating that their actions “saved an important part of American history tonight.”

Henderson’s car and the phone she was carrying were impounded by detectives. According to her father, Henderson is a military veteran dealing with mental health issues. Following the incident, she was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation before being booked into jail.

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The King Center expressed gratitude for the quick intervention, stating that, fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful. The historic home, a two-story Queen Anne-style house built in 1895, is undergoing renovations, and tours had been temporarily suspended. The National Park Service had planned to resume tours in 2025. The incident underscores the importance of vigilance in protecting significant historical sites and the role of bystanders in preventing acts of vandalism and destruction.