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Fire considered suspicious destroys Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in Lacey

A two-alarm fire destroyed Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Lacey early Friday morning.

The fire that was called out at 3:30 a.m. is being considered suspicious because of past attacks on other Jehovah Witnesses halls in Thurston County.

When firefighters arrived, the building at 6526 6th Ave. SE was well involved in flames. Crews had to fight the fire defensively from the outside. Firefighters said the roof collapsed into the basement and the hall is a total loss.

Federal authorities have been contacted and will be investigating.

There have been five attacks involving arson, shots fired and a suspicious device this year at halls in Yelm, Tumwater and Olympia.

Two arsons happened on March 19 — one at a Tumwater Kingdom Hall and the second at the Cain Road Kingdom Hall in Olympia. Both fires were started on outside walls in a similar manner.

A third incident took place on May 15 when someone fired about 35 rifle rounds into a Kingdom Hall in Yelm. Damage was estimated to be more than $10,000.

The fourth incident, another arson, occurred again at the Olympia hall on Cain Road on July 3. Security footage from the arson and still photos of a man described as a person of interest were released, as were photos of vehicle of interest in the case – believed to be a 2017 Jeep Renegade or similar SUV.

A fifth incident involved a suspicious device and arson at the Yelm hall on August 8.

Authorities all calling those attacks hate crimes. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive officials said they believe the incidents were meant to send a message and were committed by a suspect or suspects with some sort of grievance related to the Jehovah Witnesses community or some other issue they think is important.

So far, no one has been hurt. But ATF officials think it is inevitable that someone will be injured or killed if the suspect is not found.

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.

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