Washington: Arson Claims Another Jehovah's Witnesses Hall In Nine Month String Of Attacks

December 11, 2018

The Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Lacey, Washington was destroyed Friday morning by a fire that investigators have determined was intentionally set.

 

The arson committed Friday at that Kingdom Hall is the the latest story in a string of attacks committed in the area exclusively against Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Halls.

Since March, there have been five attacks involving arson, shots fired at another hall, and a suspicious device found. The targets have been halls in Yelm, Tumwater and Olympia.

 

On the morning of March 19th, fires were set at two different halls in Thurston County. A single person was captured on surveillance footage, but they were wearing a hoodie, and so far no one has identified the suspect.

 

No one was injured in either fire, but the hall in Olympia suffered about $50,000 in damage, while the damage to the hall in Tumwater was more than $15,000.

 

In May, someone fired more than a dozen shots at a hall in Yelm. Like the arson committed at the two halls in March, the shots were fired early in the morning and no one was injured. The damage caused by the gunfire was estimated at $10,000.

 

In July, the same hall in Olympia where a fire had been set in March was again targeted with fire. The fire was set in the night, and investigators said that the hall was "heavily damaged."

 

In August, the same hall in Yelm where the shots were fired was targeted by the arsonist. The fire caused minimal damage, but there was also a fake bomb left, too. The Washington State Patrol bomb squad determined that the device posed no threat.

 

Friday's attack left the hall in Lacey completely destroyed. The roof collapsed into the basement. Firefighters, despite responding to the call quickly, were unable to save the structure due to the severity of the blaze.

 

Despite involvement from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the FBI, there are no suspects yet. Investigators worry that, although no one has been hurt yet in these attacks, inevitably someone will be injured or killed if they continue.

 

Governor Jay Inslee posted on Twitter about the fire saying, "The freedom to worship is a right that should be protected for every person in our country. Our thoughts are with the members of our community affected by this abhorrent act."

 

According to local news, ATF is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible. The Arson Alarm Foundation is offering a $10,000 reward, and Crime Stoppers of South Sound is offering up to $1,000, for a total possible reward for $36,000.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or the ATF at 1-888-ATF-TIPS.

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