ELBERT COUNTY, Ga. — Elbert County's district attorney is promising to prosecute whoever is behind the explosion that destroyed the Georgia Guidestones, calling it an act of domestic terrorism.
Several law enforcement agencies are investigating after "unknown individuals" detonated an explosive device around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. The Elbert County Sheriff's Office deputies arrived to find the explosion destroyed a significant portion of the structure, investigators said.
A Peach State landmark, the granite stone edifice has often been dubbed "America's Stonehenge" with the 19-foot slabs towering near the South Carolina state line. The tablets held cryptic messages in different languages with their origins just as mysterious as the work was commissioned by a group named R.C. Christian -- the people behind of the group have asked to remain anonymous. For decades, Georgia has embraced it as an exhibit but is now left in rubble as it had to be demolished due to safety reasons.
"The perpetrator of this act will be found and prosecuted," District Attorney Parks White said. His office oversees Georgia's North Judicial Circuit, which also includes Franklin, Hart, Madison and Oglethorpe counties.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released surveillance video which shows the explosion and a car leaving the area after a cloud of smoke engulfs the state landmark. The GBI said no one was hurt.
They said the structure has been completely demolished for safety reasons.
And on Thursday, the GBI said agents recognize this case has drawn high public interest with many questions as they released an additional clip.
The GBI said the new video shows an "unknown person leaving an explosive device" near the Georgia Guidestones.
"Regardless of your feelings about the origin of the Guide Stones, their meaning, or the intention of the person who commissioned and erected them, they are a historical landmark," White said. "This destructive act was an assault upon our community. Detonating a massive explosive device capable of shattering a granite tablet in an area surrounded by residences is a criminal act which placed many people in peril of serious injury."
White cites a state code that references using explosive devices to destroy public buildings, noting the landmark is under the governing authority of Elbert County.
"And any structure open to the public and owned by a subdivision of the state is considered a public building," the district attorney said. "The penalty for destroying any public building by explosive is a minimum of 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole."
White said the GBI already has many leads, and the case is being made against the potential perpetrator.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 283-2421 or the GBI Athens Office at (706) 552-2309.
"The District Attorney's Office thanks anyone willing to come forward and help successfully prosecute this act of domestic terrorism," White said.