The Department of Justice said on Wednesday that two individuals, one of whom is a serving Marine, had been indicted on federal crimes related to the 2022 firebombing of a California Planned Parenthood clinic.
U.S. Marine Corporal Chance Brannon, 23, and Orange County resident Tibet Ergul, 21, are accused of using a Molotov cocktail to firebomb a Costa Mesa clinic in March 2022, according to a press statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Without incident, special agents from the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service captured the two guys early on Wednesday. The federal lawsuit states that they are being investigated for using explosives or fire to harm real property in a way that disrupts interstate commerce.
On the morning of March 13, 2022, at around 1 a.m., there was an attack. Prosecutors claim Brannon and Ergul tossed a Molotov cocktail through the clinic’s front door and caused a fire inside. The incident resulted in the temporary closure of the clinic, but luckily no one was hurt.
The FBI was offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the identity, arrest, and conviction of two individuals shown on security footage wearing hooded sweatshirts and face masks.
According to the lawsuit, Ergul and Brannon were identified as the perpetrators by a witness on April 3. According to the complaint, Ergul allegedly sent the witness text messages “admitting his involvement” in the incident and “including photographs of the Molotov cocktail.”
The two were high school buddies. The complaint claims that Brannon’s cell phone data shows that he was in close proximity to the Planned Parenthood clinic on the night of the attack.
Prosecutors say that the maximum penalty for the offense of employing an explosive or fire to harm real property affecting interstate commerce is 20 years in federal prison.
The below tweet verifies the news:
Two men from Orange County, California, including a Marine, have been arrested and are facing federal charges after being accused of using a Molotov cocktail to firebomb a Costa Mesa clinic operated by Planned Parenthood last year, authorities said. https://t.co/N0SPro6XQ2
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 15, 2023
“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,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada 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.”
On Wednesday, the defendants were scheduled to appear in court for the first time. It was unclear whether or not they have legal representation.
According to data provided by a Marine Expeditionary Force spokesperson, Brannon enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in September 2018 and holds the rank of corporal at the present time.
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The Marine Corps, according to the spokeswoman, does not comment on pending litigation. The clinic in Costa Mesa was one of several that were bombed or otherwise attacked in 2017 for providing reproductive health services.
Plans Parenthood announced this year that “incidents of this nature have been on the rise at Planned Parenthood health centers across the country and this is unacceptable.”
This was said in a statement to ABC Los Angeles affiliate KABC. The incident at Costa Mesa is still being looked into by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
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