For Immediate Release
ATF Offers $25k Reward for Olympia Kingdom Hall Arson
SEATTLE—The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), partnered with the City of Olympia Police and Fire Departments, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Tumwater Police and Fire Departments, and Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking information on the July 3 fire that destroyed the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall at 2225 Cain Road SE in Olympia.
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 reward from their annual $10,000 reward pool and the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is offering up to another $1,000 through Crime Stoppers of South Sound, making the total possible reward up to $36,000.
There have been four attacks on Kingdom Halls of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Thurston County over the past four months. Two arsons took place on March 19, one at a Tumwater Kingdom Hall and the second at the Cain Road Kingdom Hall. Damage to both was minor, limited to the exterior structures. The third incident took place May 15 when an unknown suspect or suspects shot and struck a Kingdom Hall in Yelm with about 35 rifle rounds, causing more than $10,000 in damage to the structure. The fourth incident took place on July 3rd where an unknown suspect set fire to the Olympia Kingdom Hall, completely destroying it.
As these incidents were located in close proximity to each other, it is believed that they are related. ATF is working closely with the Olympia Police Department, Thurston County Sheriff, and Tumwater Police Department, in these ongoing investigations.
No injuries have been reported in any of the incidents.
"It is inevitable that innocent people will be injured or killed if these incidents go unchecked," said Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Darek Pleasants. "We take events at houses of worship very seriously and are appealing to those who live in and around Thurston and the surrounding counties to partner with us in protecting their communities in this investigation."
ATF believes that these incidents were meant to send a message. We believe that the suspect or suspects has or have a grievance related to the Jehovah’s Witness community, or about another issue they think is important. Before these fires, the person or persons involved are likely to have shared these strong feelings with others through comments and conversation.
ATF believes that the individual or individuals responsible for these incidents may have also exhibited changes in behavior in the hours and days since the fires, to include:
- Dramatic and unexplained altering of physical appearance (growth or removal of facial hair, change in hair color or cut, etc.);
- Change in normal routines or habits, which might include missing work, classes, or previously scheduled appointments;
- Unexplained injuries;
- Intense interest in the status of this investigation.
Anyone having information on the fires or shooting should call ATF’s toll free hotline at 888-ATF-TIPS (283-8477), Crime Stoppers of South Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or the Arson Alarm Foundation at 1-800-55-ARSON (-27766). Callers may remain anonymous.
People can also submit a tip through ATF’s new "report it" app available at www.reportit.com and at Google Play and the Apple App Store. All tips are confidential and can be anonymous.
More information about ATF and its programs are available at www.atf.gov.