Utahn recounts how attempted arson at the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. was prevented

Dec 9, 2023, 9:14 PM | Updated: 9:21 pm

VINEYARD — Several bystanders, including two from Utah, were able to prevent a 26-year-old woman from burning down the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. Thursday evening. The incident has since sparked national attention.

Good Samaritans saved Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta from being burned to the ground, officials say

Bryce Gandy told KSL TV he and his co-worker Zach Kempf we’re in Atlanta for work.

“We finished our work day a little early and so we thought well lets find something in Atlanta to go see,” he said.

Gandy said the two took a picture outside the home, which was closed at the time of their visit. A few minutes later, a young woman approached the home carrying a gas can. “And so we thought, ‘is this lady here, is she maintenance for the house?”

Gandy noticed the woman, later identified as Laneisha Henderson, try to enter the front door of the home, still thinking she was a maintenance worker. She later started pouring liquid throughout the property only to realize it was gasoline.

“Zach was in between her and the steps of the house and she was coming with the lighter to go up the steps and he was blocking…her from getting up the steps to the house, just saying, ‘no, you can’t do this, you can’t do this.'”

Zach Kempf, left, and Bryce Gandy. The two Utahns were able to prevent a 26-year-old woman from burning down the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. Thursday evening. (Bryce Gandy)

Gandy said she later took off and Zach called for help from two other bystanders, who were later identified as former NYPD officers, to stop her.

“All of that happened really within the matter of five minutes,” Gandy said.

The two former officers, Kenny and Axel Dodson, were recognized for their heroic efforts on Saturday morning by the NYPD.

Gandy also called Zach’s efforts heroic.

Gandy said he’s glad he, Kempf and others were in the right place at the right time.

“(It) felt like a miracle that these pieces kind of fell into place to preserve a piece of history.”

Henderson is being charged with second-degree arson and interfering with government property. She reportedly is also suffering from mental illness.

Gandy said he hopes she’s able to get the help she needs, and his heart is with her and her family.

“The people who can help her are really the ones who are the heroes are making our world a better place.”

KSL 5 TV Live


This image provided by the Denver Police Department shows Miles Harford. Denver police are asking f...

Associated Press

Denver police search a former funeral home owner who kept the cremated remains of at least 30 people

Denver police are asking for the public's help in finding a former funeral home owner who they say kept a woman's body in a hearse for two years and also kept the cremated remains of at least 30 people.

5 hours ago

Sandy police car...

Pat Reavy, and Garna Mejia,

Sandy man charged with shooting family member with BB gun, then killing his dog

A man in Sandy is accused of shooting his uncle with a BB gun and setting a room on fire, killing his uncle's dog.

5 hours ago

Vincent Van Gogh's painting "Self Portrait with a Straw Hat" is displayed at the exhibit "Vincent V...

Pat Reavy,

California man accused of defrauding Utah woman with fake van Gogh, Dali, Monet paintings

A California jeweler is accused of defrauding a Utah woman out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of jewelry, watches and other items by giving her paintings he said were made by Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Claude Monet but turned out to be fake.

6 hours ago

generic emergency lights...

Eliza Pace

Utah Airbnb host charged with sexually assaulting renter

A man was charged with sexually assaulting a 58-year-old woman who was staying at his Airbnb. 

8 hours ago

The mug shots of Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt obtained by KSL on Feb. 21 2024. It's expected th...

Shelby Lofton

Long-term therapy expected for Ruby Franke, Jodi Hildebrandt’s young victims

After their mother, Ruby Franke, and previous counselor Jodi Hildebrandt were sentenced for aggravated child abuse, it's expected the Franke children will need long-term therapy to heal from the trauma they've endured.

1 day ago

Susan Orifici...

Cary Schwanitz

Repairs planned for vandalized headstones at Grantsville City Cemetery

Representatives from the Grantsville Public Works Department and the State Historic Preservation Office met with the mayor this week to discuss repairing several damaged headstones at the city’s cemetery.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Utahn recounts how attempted arson at the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. was prevented