Jehovah’s Witness community undeterred in face of repeated crimes

PUYALLUP, Wash. – Undeterred, that’s how some Jehovah’s Witnesses describe how they feel after another attack on one of their places of worship.

A fire that officials believe was deliberately set early Tuesday morning scorched an outdoor wall at the Puyallup Assembly and investigators describe it as suspicious.

“If there hadn’t been the sprinkler system, I mean damage to humans at this point is a lot bigger deal,” said Mike Jones. “We can’t replace people like we can replace buildings.”

Jones is a member of the Olympia congregation which suffered repeated attacks and he says the most incident is a painful reminder.

“It can be intimidating at first to know that someone is attacking you,” he said.

Officials call Tuesday’s incident suspicious where someone lit a fire that scorched an outside wall at the Puyallup Assembly Hall.

“We realize there are sinister individuals out there and the world is full of people that want to do harm to others,” said David Keegan. “That doesn’t stop us from doing what’s right.”

Investigators believe Tuesday’s incident makes a total of seven active criminal investigations where Jehovah’s Witness buildings have been targeted by fire or bullet holes across the South Sound. Since March of 2018, Kingdom Halls in Tumwater, Lacey, Olympia, Yelm and now Puyallup have been targeted. Whether they are all connected is still being investigated.

While the faithful gather in the same location that was most recently attacked, many plan to continue their worship undeterred.

“The theme of this convention is love never fails and it’s all about applying that in our personal lives,” said Keegan.

A $36,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest for whoever is responsible for the earlier attacks.