Potential arson destroys Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Lacey
LACEY, Wash. -- An early morning fire destroyed a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Lacey and it's being investigated as a possible arson.
The fire broke out around 3:45 a.m. Friday at the hall on 6th Ave SE near Carpenter Road SE.
Thurston County Sheriff's Office was on scene investigating. John Snaza with the sheriff's office spoke to KOMO News.
"Why is this specific religion being targeted? Why are these churches being targeted?' What are they doing that is so wrong and oppressive," Snaza asked.
"Our crews arrived to find a fully involved Kingdom Hall church and it immediately a defensive operation since the get-go," said Deputy Chief Ryan Cox with Lacey Fire.
There have been no reports of injuries.
Dan Woollett, a minister and elder at the church said the important thing in this incident is everyone is safe.
"It's just a building -- buildings can be replaced," he said. "Things can be redone. So we just move ahead with the ministry that we have that we're involved with."
It’s the latest in a string of attacks on Jehovah's Witness churches in the South Sound. In July ATF agents connected three arsons and one reported shooting this year at Jehovah's Witnesses' Kingdom Halls in Olympia, Tumwater and Yelm.
Jonathan Blais is the ATF assistant special agent in charge of investigating the fire.
"ATF is doing everything in it's utmost power to contribute to solving this crime with our partners in Thurston County," Blais said.
All four of those attacks are considered hate crimes, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza said at the time.
"It makes you feel really ill about somebody who has some sort of animosity towards any religion, yet alone a Jehovah's Witness of Kingdom Hall," Snaza said Friday. "So how frustrating is it that people who find a solemn place of worship, and now it's being destroyed?"
Alex Torre, a church member, said "It's sad, but hey we just keep going."
ATF investigators have been called to this scene in addition to Thurston County Sheriff's Deputies for this investigation. Law enforcement has checked the other Kingdom Hall's in the region and found nothing suspicious, Cox said.
Police are asking anyone who might have any inforation on this fire or the previous fires to contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. A $36,000 in combined rewards are available for information that leads to the capture of the suspect.