Fire that destroyed Lacey's Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses was arson

    Fire burns Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses church in Lacey (Photo: KOMO News)

    LACEY, Wash. -- A fire that destroyed a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Lacey has been confirmed as arson on Saturday, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

    The fire broke out around 3:45 a.m. this past Friday at the hall on 6th Ave SE near Carpenter Road SE. There have been no reports of injuries.

    Thurston County Sheriff's Office was on scene investigating. John Snaza with the sheriff's office spoke to KOMO News on Friday.

    "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.

    Dan Woollett, a minister and elder at the church said the important thing in this incident is everyone is safe.

    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."

    Police are asking anyone who might have any information on this fire or the previous fires to contact CrimeStoppers Call 888-ATF-TIPS or 800-222-TIPSS -- you may remain anonymous. A $36,000 in combined rewards are available for information that leads to the capture of the suspect.

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