An early Friday fire that destroyed the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall near Lacey is being called suspicious by local law enforcement, according to a news release from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.
Lacey Fire District 3 responded to the call about 3:30 a.m. to find the building at 6526 Sixth Ave. SE engulfed in flames.
The building was a total loss. No injuries were reported.
This was the fourth time this year a Thurston County Kingdom Hall has been the site of a suspicious fire. Fire destroyed the Kingdom Hall in Olympia in July, after an arson attempt there in March.
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At the Yelm Kingdom Hall, a suspicious device was found near the building in August after someone fired multiple rounds at the building in May.
“How frustrating it is that people who find a solemn place to worship, and now it’s being destroyed,” said Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza at a Friday press conference. “It’s not just this church that’s been destroyed. But now, what’re we doing about it? And it’s definitely hard trying to gather the suspects on something like this because it’s so random.
“We’re definitely using every investigating tool that we can and every resource. And that’s why we’re asking for the Crime Stopper tips to really get us going in this investigation so that we can come to a great resolve on this.”
Lacey fire crews, Sheriff’s Office detectives and federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm investigators along with a local task force are working together to conduct the Lacey investigation.
“Why are they being targeted?,” Snaza said. “Why is this specific religion being targeted? Why are these churches being targeted? What’re they doing that’s so wrong? And I think that’s the frustrating part for any member not only at the church, but members of this community.”
Jason Chudy, public information officer for the ATF, said there is no working theory as to why Thurston County Kingdom Halls have been targeted.