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3rd person charged in arson attack on California Planned Parenthood

An active-duty U.S. Marine and another California man had previously been arrested in connection with the March 13, 2022, attack.
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A federal grand jury has indicted three men, including an active-duty Marine, in the firebombing attack on a Southern California Planned Parenthood clinic last year, prosecutors said Monday.

The Marine, Chance Brannon, 23, and another California man, Tibet Ergul, 21, were arrested last month and charged in the March 13, 2022, firebombing at the Costa Mesa facility.

Both men, as well as a Florida man, Xavier Batten, 21, were indicted on July 14 and the indictment was unsealed Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.

Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, Calif.Google Maps

A motive is under investigation, but "there are strong indications of animus toward women with regards to the three defendants," U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said.

All three men knew one another, Estrada said.

Brannon and Ergul allegedly “scoped out” the clinic and attacked it shortly after midnight, and Batten told Brannon how to make the Molotov cocktail and encouraged the attack, Estrada said.

The damage was not extensive, and firefighters put out the fire, but the clinic had to close and cancel around 30 appointments, Estrada said.

Someone who was friends with Brannon and Ergul tipped off the FBI after the law enforcement agency asked for help identifying two people seen in security video footage, according to court documents.

Ergul had sent that person messages about the arson, including a photo showing the firebomb, the documents say.

All three are being held without bail, Estrada said. Batten is being held in Florida.

Police found a second Molotov cocktail in Ergul’s garage, and an illegal short-barreled rifle and silencers when they searched Brannon’s home, Estrada said.

All three are charged with conspiracy and malicious destruction of property by fire and explosion, which carries between five to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Burn marks on the exterior of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, Calif., on March 13, 2022.
Burn marks on the exterior of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, Calif., in 2022.U.S. District Court for the Central District of Calif.

Ergul and Brannon are also charged for the firebombing and the weapons. They 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.

The misdemeanor count is part of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, passed in 1994, officials said.

Brannon's attorney, Kate Corrigan, said that he pleaded not guilty in court Monday, and she looks forward to discovery and defending her client.

Attorneys listed as representing the other two men charged did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday evening.