Mulberry, Florida -- 10 News has learned that controversial Gainesville pastor Terry Jones was arrested before he could carry out his plan to burnnearly 3,000 copies of the Islam holy book the Quran in Polk County on Wednesday afternoon.
Jones planned to burn the books atthe county-owned Loyce E. Harpe Park in Mulberry, but was denied a permit, with officials saying he filed his request too lateand that he does not have permission for an event of that magnitude.
Jones earlier told 10 News the lack of a permit would not stop him from sending his message about the religion of Islam to the world from Polk County. He wanted to set fire to exactly 2,998 copies of the Quran -- one for every victim who died in the 9/11 attacks 12 years ago.
But shortly before he planned to set the books on fire at the Mulberry park, Jones and associate pastor Marvin Wayne Sapp Jr. were stopped. Their truck was towing a large barbecue smoker, which reportedly had copies of the Quran inside, already doused in kerosene.
"We couldn't allow that container to continue down the road, with the flammable liquid in that container," said Polk Co. Sheriff Grady Judd in a press conference. "It was flammable and it was dangerous."
Sheriff Judd said several law enforcement officers also saw Jones openly carrying a firearm on his hip.
Polk deputies took Jones and Sapp into custody at the Mulberry Pharmacy on N. Church Avenue on felony charges. They are both charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel.
Jones was additionally charged for unlawful open carry of a firearm, while Sapp Jr. was additionally charged with not having a valid registration for the smoker trailer. He will also receive multiple traffic citations for not having proper lighting on the trailer.
Sheriff Judd said Jones was told he was welcome to come to Polk County and express his First Amendment rights as long as he didn't break the law.
"We said to [Jones] 'If you come to Polk County and violate the law, you will go to jail.' And that's the way that is," said Sheriff Judd.
Jones is the pastor of a small evangelical Christian Dove World Outreach Center. His congregation burned a Quran in March 2011 and last year he promoted an anti-Muslim film. His actions have sparked violence in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
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