A man who said voices told him to “burn buildings down” has been arrested in connection with the arson fire started outside the National Archives on April 25, officials announced Tuesday.
He was identified as Jacob Leroy Wallace, 32, who had no fixed address, D.C. police said.
There were no injuries in the fire, but part of an exterior stone wall of the building, at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, was damaged.
“We are exceptionally thankful to [the Archives] Office of Inspector General and all of the other law enforcement officers and agencies who tirelessly worked to identify a suspect,” Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said in a statement.
According to court documents, Wallace told investigators that he was hearing voices that told him to “burn buildings down.”
On April 28, a person identifying himself as Wallace called the FBI from a Safeway store on Wisconsin Avenue and said he wanted to talk about the fire he said he had set at the Archives, according to the D.C. Superior Court documents.
The caller said he was being followed and was hearing voices.
The same day, the CIA received an online message from Wallace stating “the FBI won’t help me. I’m tired of being tortured so I’m setting fires like the National Archives Building in Washington D.C. a few days ago,” according to court documents. “Maybe fires will get your attention.”
On the night of May 2, a special agent with the Archives Office of the Inspector General, was summoned by the Secret Service to the north side of the White House, where Wallace had told the Secret Service that he had set the Archives fire.
The agent, Christopher Saunders, found Wallace sitting on a park bench. Wallace said that he had started the fire, the court documents stated.
Wallace was held pending a hearing May 10.
The fire had been started with a blanket and container of gasoline in a secluded corner on the left side of the building on Pennsylvania Avenue at about 8 p.m., officials said.
Surveillance video captured the act.
The person was wearing dark pants and a dark jacket over a light-colored hooded shirt with the hood up, the Archives said.
Archives photographs from the incident show a melted plastic gas container and charred stone where the fire burned. The blaze burned off an outer layer of stone in an area about the size of a trash can lid.
National Archives security officers were watching video monitors and saw that something was going on.
“They sent a couple of security officers outside with portable fire extinguishers,” said John Valceanu, a spokesman for the Archives. “They tried to put the fire out. But they couldn’t. . . . The flames were pretty high.”
D.C. firefighters arrived within minutes and doused the flames.
President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone of the massive Archives structure on Feb. 20, 1933. The building was finished in 1937.
It houses, among other treasures, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.