Pastor Terry Jones arrested before he could burn Qurans in Polk County
Kristal Roberts , Alex Hobson
5:38 PM, Sep 11, 2013
4:18 AM, Sep 12, 2013
MULBERRY - Terry Jones, the controversial Gainesville pastor who garnered national attention for his 2010 plan to burn Qurans was arrested Wednesday in Polk County.
Jones had previously announced that he and his congregation planned to burn 2,998 Qurans Wednesday---one for each life lost on 9/11.
Jones, 61, and Marvin Wayne Sapp Jr., 44, got as far as dousing the Qurans with gas before they were taken into custody around 5 p.m. at the Mulberry Pharmacy, located at 1009 Church Ave.
Jones and Sapp had emptied kerosene into a smoker/trailer that contained a stack of Qurans.
"Some were already inside the grill soaked in kerosene, the others were in boxes in the back of the pickup truck," Sapp's wife Stephanie confirmed.
The sheriff's office said they then dangerously transported the trailer filled with flammable material on a state road.
"He was potentially driving a bomb down the road, had there been a crash," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a news conference Wednesday night.
Multiple deputies also reported that they saw Jones carrying a firearm on his left hip in plain view of the general public in a McDonald's parking lot on East Canal Street.
According to the sheriff's office, the county had denied Jones a permit to burn in the county park like he intended. But members of his congregation told ABC Action News he was planning to do so anyway and was wiling to be arrested.
"My detectives had many conversations with Terry Jones prior to today. He was told he was welcome to come to Polk County and express his first amendment rights. However, if he violated the law, he would absolutely be arrested and placed in the county jail," Judd said.
Jones was charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel and unlawful open carry of a firearm.
Sapp was charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel and having no valid registration for the smoker trailer he was towing.
Sapp's White 1998 Chevrolet pickup and the smoker/trailer was confiscated. The Qurans were seized as evidence and are now being held at the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Jones has previously attributed the Quran and the Islam faith for the 9/11 attacks.
He is the pastor at the Dove World Outreach Center who attempted to burn Qurans on the 9th anniversary of 9/11, titled "Burn a Quran Day" in 2010.
Several politicians and groups reached out to him asking him to reconsider and he canceled.