Terry Jones arrested en route to Koran-burning
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
MULBERRY (FOX 13) - Controversial Pastor Terry Jones was arrested Wednesday afternoon while on his way to the planned Koran-burning demonstration in Polk County.
He faces two charges: unlawful conveyance of fuel, and unlawful open carry of a firearm, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said detectives had "numerous conversations" with Jones, warning him that if he broke the law in Polk County, he would be arrested.
"He did, and we did," Judd said.
Jones' vehicle was pulled over by the sheriff's office just before 5 p.m. Judd said numerous witnesses reported seeing Jones carrying a gun on his hip in plain view in a McDonalds parking lot.
Some of the 3,000 kerosene-soaked Korans were apparently inside a grill that was being towed behind a truck.
The vehicle's driver, 44-year-old Marvin Wayne Sapp, and Jones were both taken into custody on felony charges, the sheriff's office said.
Sapp is also charged with the unlawful conveyance of fuel. He had no registration for the smoker trailer attached to the trick, and will be cited for not having the proper lighting on the trailer, the sheriff's office said.
Jones is expected to be able to bond out of jail this evening, Judd said.
"The HAZMAT team surrounded the truck and said, 'This is hazardous.' After a while they drove off with the hazardous materials themselves," recalled Fran Ingram, a spokesperson for Jones's church who also witnessed the arrest. "But they didn't just arrest the driver, who was Wayne Sapp, but they also handcuffed and arrested Terry Jones, who was not the driver of the vehicle. So it seems to me it was more than just driving with hazardous materials."
The traffic stop and subsequent arrest happened about a mile from Harpe Park, the announced location of the rally.
Jones has been planning the event -- timed to coincide with the Sept. 11th anniversary -- for weeks, but learned yesterday that the county had denied his permit requests for the demonstration.
"He was prepared to go to jail," Ingram said of Jones. "We'll find out what we can do to bail him out, then we'll fight the charges, whatever they are, in court."
Ingram confirmed that the demonstration, scheduled for this evening, would no longer happen.
Meanwhile, Wayne Sapp's wife told FOX 13 that the arrests were "a very dangerous sign to us as Americans, as citizens, and to the First Amendment."
In the past, military leaders have blamed Jones's Koran-burning demonstrations for attacks against American troops overseas. However, Stephanie Sapp rejected any notion that Jones and his events were responsible.
"We are not responsible for those acts of violence," she insisted. "Those acts of violence are committed by people 7,000, 8,000 miles away. Those people need to be held accountable for those acts."