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.
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.'”
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.”