US Marine among two men arrested for firebombing California Planned Parenthood

The FBI previously offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the alleged arsonists

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 14 June 2023 21:42 BST

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An active duty US Marine was one of two men arrested in connection to the firebombing of a Planned Parenthood in Orange County, California, according to the Department of Justice.

Tibet Ergul, 21, of Irvine and Chance Brannon, 23, of San Juan Capistrano — who is currently a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton — were arrested Wednesday morning, according to the DOJ.

Both men have been accused of using an explosive or fire to damage property affecting interstate commerce.

The alleged attack occurred on 13 March, 2022, when a molotov cocktail was thrown at the clinic's entrance. The Planned Parenthood Costa Mesa location was forced to close temporarily and cancel 30 appointments as a result.

US Attorney Martin Estrada called the attack "entirely unacceptable."

“My office takes very seriously this brazen attack that targeted a facility that provides critical health care services to thousands of people in Orange County,” he said in a statement. “While it is fortunate that no one was physically harmed and responders were able to prevent the clinic from being destroyed, the defendants’ violent actions are entirely unacceptable.”

Security footage allegedly shows two men wearing hoodies and face masks approaching the clinic around 1am on the day of the fire. The video reportedly shows them lighting a device and throwing it at the front door of the building.

“The device landed against a southern wall next to the glass door and erupted into a fire, which spread up the wall and across the ceiling above the glass door,” the affidavit describing the video said.

One of the men who allegedly set fire to an Orange County Planned Parenthood caught on surveillance footage outside the facility

The facility caught fire, but Costa Mesa firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.

A later analysis of the evidence collected at the scene revealed that a glass device filled with gasoline was used to help spread the fire.

The men face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

The FBI previously offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the men who threw the device.

Planned Parenthood locations, which provide abortions as well as a host of other healthcare services for women, are frequent targets of extremist violence. Nine other cases of arson or vandalism against Planned Parenthood facilities were reported in Oregon, Washington, New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, primarily between May and July of 2022.

Nichole Ramirez, the vice president of communications and donor relations for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties, called the attacks unacceptable, according to the LA Times.

“The safety of our staff, patients and supporters is our highest priority, and we are working in collaboration with the FBI and local law enforcement to prosecute this attack to the fullest extent of the law,” she said in a statement to the paper. “[We] will continue to provide expert, compassionate care for the community as we have done for over 50 years.”

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