An ex-Marine pleaded guilty to federal charges in the firebombing last year of a Planned Parenthood clinic in California, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
The defendant — 24-year-old Chance Brannon of San Juan Capistrano — also admitted to plotting other attacks, according to his plea agreement.
Brannon was an active-duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton when he and two others used a Molotov cocktail to firebomb a Costa Mesa clinic in March 2022, according to federal prosecutors.
The Molotov cocktail was thrown at the front door of the clinic, causing a fire. No one was injured in the incident and the clinic had to temporarily close.
Brannon targeted the clinic “to scare pregnant women, deter doctors and staff from providing abortion services, and encourage similar violent acts,” the Department of Justice said in a release.
Brannon was arrested in June and has been in custody since. He pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts: conspiracy, malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility — a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act — and possession of an unregistered destructive device.
According to the plea agreement, Brannon planned to attack a second Planned Parenthood clinic following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, but didn’t follow through. He was accused of having plotted an attack on a Southern California Edison substation and conducting research on how to attack Dodger Stadium during an LGBTQ pride celebration using a remote-detonated device, according to the document.
“This defendant exemplifies the insidious danger posed by domestic extremism,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “The defendant, who was a member of the U.S. military, admitted not only to attacking a Planned Parenthood facility but also to planning for attacks on the power grid and a pride celebration at Dodger Stadium. We must never waver in our commitment to protect the American people from violent extremist ideology.”
Brannon is scheduled to be sentenced on April 15, 2024. He faces five to 20 years in federal prison for each of the conspiracy and malicious destruction counts. The possession of an unregistered destructive device count is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison, while the intentional damage to a reproductive health facility charge carries up to one year in federal prison.
His co-defendants — Tibet Ergul, 22, of Irvine, California, and Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida — have pleaded not guilty to federal charges in connection with the firebombing and are scheduled to go to trial on March 19, 2024, the DOJ said.
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