SANTA ANA, California – Special agents with the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have arrested two Orange County men on federal charges alleging they used a Molotov cocktail to firebomb a Costa Mesa clinic operated by Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Tibet Ergul, 21, of Irvine, and Chance Brannon, 23, of San Juan Capistrano, an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, were arrested this morning without incident.
Ergul and Brannon are named in a criminal complaint that charges each with using an explosive or fire to damage real property affecting interstate commerce. Both defendants are expected to make their initial appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.
“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,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “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.”
“The depraved act of launching an improvised explosive device into a public facility put lives at risk and will not be tolerated,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The joint investigation among local and federal law enforcement led to today’s arrests and we will continue to work collaboratively with our partners to hold accountable those who deliberately endanger the community.”
The complaint alleges that Ergul and Brannon attacked the clinic during the early morning hours of March 13, 2022, by igniting and a throwing a Molotov cocktail at the clinic entrance. As a result of the fire, the Planned Parenthood Costa Mesa healthcare clinic was forced to close the following morning and cancel approximately 30 appointments.
Security videos described in the affidavit show that two men wearing hooded sweatshirts and face masks approached the Planned Parenthood facility at approximately 1 a.m. the day of the attack, ignited a device, and threw the flaming device at the front door of the building. “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,” according to the complaint.
The Costa Mesa Police Department and Fire Department responded to the scene and extinguished the fire. An analysis of evidence collected at the scene showed that the glass container and other materials contained gasoline.
A criminal complaint contains allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The charge of using an explosive or fire to damage real property affecting interstate commerce carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are conducting the ongoing investigation in this matter. The Costa Mesa Police Department provided substantial assistance.
Assistant United States Attorney Kathrynne Seiden of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section is prosecuting this case.