Marine pleads guilty to firebombing Planned Parenthood, planning attack at Dodger Stadium

A U.S. Marine from Orange County has admitted to his role in a 2022 attack at a Planned Parenthood in which he and another man threw a Molotov cocktail at a clinic under the cover of night. He also admitted to planning more attacks at other various sites in Southern California.

Chance Brannon, 24, of San Juan Capistrano, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, destruction of property and targeting a reproductive health services facility – a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

The firebombing happened on March 13, 2022, at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa. Brannon was an active-duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton at the time.

Suspects wanted by the FBI for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Orange County Planned Parenthood on March 13, 2022. (FBI)
Suspects wanted by the FBI for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Orange County Planned Parenthood on March 13, 2022. (FBI)

According to the United States Department of Justice, Brannon admitted to planning attacks with two co-conspirators, 22-year-old Tibet Ergul of Irvine and 21-year-old Xavier Batten of Brooksville, Florida.

On the morning of March 13, 2022, Brannon and Ergul drove to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, ignited the Molotov cocktail and threw it at the clinic entrance in hopes of scaring pregnant women, intimidating abortion providers from offering the procedure and encouraging similar violent acts, the DOJ said.

An image of a Molotov cocktail was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.
An image of a Molotov cocktail was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The men chose the Costa Mesa clinic after also discussing other possible targets, including the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego – a Jewish advocacy organization.

Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark court decision Roe v. Wade, which ruled that women had a constitutional right to abortion, Brannon and Ergul began plotting another attack at a second Planned Parenthood location, federal prosecutors allege.

Brannon also admitted to giving Batton advice on how to “get away with” similar attacks.

According to the DOJ, the men considered many targets for future attacks, including a Southern California Edison substation and an LGBTQ pride night celebration at Dodger Stadium.

Brannon said he and Ergul had discussed starting a “race war” by knocking down power in Orange County. He kept a USB drive, disguised as a military necklace with the Marine Corps motto, with detailed plans about future attacks and lists of gear needed for these plans, according to the DOJ.

Authorities say Brannon had already gotten ahold of many of the items on the list, including a rifle with a racial slur toward African Americans written in a foreign language. He was also found to have a recording of the 2019 white supremacist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand in which 51 people were slain and 40 were injured.

Brannon was inspired by the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, discussed bombing the Dodger Stadium event and scouting the sporting venue ahead of an eventual attack, the DOJ said.

When he was arrested this past June, he was found to be in possession of an unregistered rifle and two illegal silencers.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said Brannon represents the “insidious danger posed by domestic extremism,” vowing that the DOJ is committed to protecting Americans from violent ideology.

Don Alway, FBI Los Angeles Assistant Director, echoed that statement, adding that those who are fueled by hatred and target reproductive health care clinics will not be tolerated.

“It is crucial that individuals who seek reproductive health services be able to obtain them in an environment that is free from interference, intimidation, and fear,” Alway said.

Brannon, Ergul and Bratton have been in federal custody since their June arrests, more than a year after the Costa Mesa attack. Ergul and Batten have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are scheduled to face trial in March 2024.

Brannon is due to be sentenced in April 2024 and will face between five and 20 years in federal prison for each of the conspiracy and malicious destruction counts, and an additional 10-year maximum sentence for possession of a destructive device.

Earlier this week, another California man was sentenced to federal prison for targeting Planned Parenthood in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision, calling clinics and threatening to bomb the facilities and murder employees.

Following the reversal of the landmark ruling, abortion clinics across the country saw a sharp increase in threats and attacks, particularly in states that offer greater access to the procedure, according to a report from the National Abortion Federation. The DOJ has been tracking those acts of violence as well.

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