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Active Duty Marine and Two Others Charged in Planned Parenthood Firebombing

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Chance Brannon, a 23-year-old active duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendelton in Orange County, was one of two men who appeared in federal court in DTLA Monday on charges they hurled a Molotov cocktail at the entrance of the Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood Clinic.

Prosecutors allege Brannon, and Tibet Ergul, 21, of Irvine, along with Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida, disguised themselves in hooded sweatshirts and face masks to carry out the early morning attack on March 13, 2022.

Surveillance video allegedly captured the men approaching the clinic, igniting the homemade explosive device, and then hurling it at the building’s front door, according to prosecutors.

(Photos Courtesy US Attorneys Office, Central District, Los Angeles)

“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 complaint states.

The following morning, the Planned Parenthood was forced to close and cancel dozens of appointments, the FBI says. According to the criminal complaint, Ergul texted an acquaintance that same day, bragging about the attack and noting that he wished he “could’ve recorded the combustion,” along with a photo of his gloved hand holding the Molotov cocktail from inside Brannon’s car.

Batten was arrested Friday by special agents with the FBI where he made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida. He was ordered to be held without bond pending trial.

The indictment returned on July 14 and unsealed Friday charges all three defendants with one count of conspiracy as well as one count of malicious destruction of property by fire and explosion. Additionally, Brannon and Ergul both are charged with one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one misdemeanor count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility, which is a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

“The violent and reckless attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic alleged in the indictment is intolerable,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “This indictment shows that federal law enforcement will work diligently to uncover and hold accountable those who plan and carry out violent extremist acts against others.”

According to the indictment, the trio began planning the bombing in February.

The indictment’s conspiracy and malicious destruction counts each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The count of possession of an unregistered destructive device is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. The intentional damage to a reproductive health facility charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.

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