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Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Suspect in Chattanooga Masonic Center Attack Arrested in Georgia

by Christopher Hodapp

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED:Thursday 9/7/2023 11:30AM
Added more of suspect's Facebook posts; mugshot photo and affidavit.

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED Tuesday 9/5/2023 11:20PM
Added suspect's name, photo and alleged Facebook posts

WDEF-TV News in Chattanooga reports that authorities in Catoosa County, Georgia arrested a suspect in the arson and vandalism case of the Labor Day break-in and fires at the Chattanooga Masonic Center.

On Monday evening, Georgia police arrested 29-year-old Kadum Hunter Harwood (photo), who will be extradited to Hamilton County in Tennessee and charged with arson, vandalism, burglary and reckless endangerment.

Tennessee Grand Master James Arnhart issued a Facebook message this morning:

The individual responsible for vandalizing our Masonic Center has been taken into custody in Georgia. We owe all law enforcement a huge thank you for doing an outstanding job. God bless you all.

 When you attack a Masonic Lodge or Freemasonry you are in essence attacking the community, a commitment to those in need and suffering. Freemasonry donates a million dollars a day to Charities across the board. From Children's Hospitals, Widows and Orphans, KT's Eye Foundation, Scottish Rite's Rite Care. The list goes on and on, [and] these are but a few. Freemasonry is about services.

The Masonic Center in downtown Chattanooga along with Tennessee Freemasonry will be fine. We learned, we repair, we love, and we serve.

My brief review of what seems to be Harwood's recent Facebook postings is disturbing, to say the least. He seemed to be taunting authorities Monday evening by posting the address of a hotel in Graysville, Georgia. He clearly kept no secret as to his whereabouts. (NOTE: That FB profile has not been officially attributed to Harwood at this time.) 

He also seemed to have a gripe against the Vatican.

Update 9/7/2023 11:30PM

The affidavit filed at the time of Harwood's arrest provides a few more details in the case (from the WZTV website on September 5th):

The affidavit says the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the Chattanooga Masonic Center around 2 a.m. on September 4th.

When crews arrived, the affidavit says they noticed forced entry at the front door as well as 2 separate fires on the property.

The affidavit says one fire was in the shrubs to the left of the front door and the other was in the cafeteria where a podium was set ablaze. 

This was all caught on surveillance video, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says the surveillance footage also shows Harwood using a sledge hammer to vandalize several sections on the Masonic Center. 

Harwood 'recklessly' discharged a large caliber firearm into the air before leaving, the affidavit says.

The footage shows a blue Toyota SUV at the center, which the affidavit says was know [sic] by police to be driven by Kadum Harwood based on his social media posts.

The affidavit says officers also found social media posts from Harwood of him threatening to "burn the Free Masons building downtown."

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