Camp Pendleton Marine and accomplice charged with firebombing Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood

A split image of two walking masked figures, both wearing hoodies over their head. The person at left is carrying an object.
Chance Brannon, a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, and Tibet Ergul of Irvine are accused of being the two masked individuals who threw a Molotov cocktail igniting a blaze at a Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood last year.
(U.S Department of Justice)
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FBI agents and naval investigators arrested an active duty U.S. Marine and his alleged accomplice Wednesday on federal charges of firebombing a Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood clinic last year.

Chance Brannon, 23, of San Juan Capistrano, a Marine stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and Tibet Ergul, 21, of Irvine are accused of being the two masked and hooded individuals who tossed a Molotov cocktail March 13, 2022, igniting a blaze. Both were taken into custody without incident early Wednesday and were slated to appear in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana later in the day.

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. The charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.


“My office takes very seriously this brazen attack that targeted a facility that provides critical healthcare services to thousands of people in Orange County,” said Martin Estrada, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. “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.”

A wall blackened by smoke
Burn marks on an entrance and adjacent wall of the firebombed Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood.
(U.S. Department of Justice)

Threats and violence targeting reproductive healthcare facilities have become increasingly common, with the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuting more than two dozen such cases in the last four years, including a group that tried to physically block an entrance to a Washington, D.C., clinic last year and a man who in 2020 and 2021 shot a BB gun at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pasadena.

Nichole Ramirez, vice president of communications and donor relations for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties, called the March 13 Costa Mesa attack and others like it unacceptable.

“The safety of our staff, patients and supporters is our highest priority, and we are working in collaboration with the FBI and local law enforcement to prosecute this attack to the fullest extent of the law,” Ramirez said in a statement last year. “[We] will continue to provide expert, compassionate care for the community as we have done for over 50 years.”

Prosecutors in the latest complaint alleged the pair left Ergul’s home, went to Planned Parenthood and tossed the Molotov cocktail at the clinic entrance. The resulting fire forced the facility to close the following morning and cancel approximately 30 appointments.


Images from the security videos in the affidavit show two men wearing hooded sweatshirts and face masks approaching the Planned Parenthood facility about 1 a.m. They ignite a device and throw it 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.

Costa Mesa firefighters put out the fire on Nutmeg Place, and a subsequent analysis of evidence showed that a glass container and other materials contained gasoline.

After an appeal to the public for help in identifying the attackers, a witness called the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center stating that she knew the suspects from high school and could identify them.

The day after he and Brannon started the fire, Ergul texted the witness, taking credit for the fire and noting that he wished he “could’ve recorded the combustion.” Ergul sent the acquaintance a photograph depicting his gloved hand holding the Molotov cocktail from inside Brannon’s car, according to the affidavit.

Federal agents also obtained phone records that showed Brannon was in the vicinity of the Planned Parenthood at the time of the attack and again later about 3 a.m., according to the affidavit. A Dodge vehicle driven by Brannon found by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service outside the barracks was also tied to the crime, according to the affidavit.


“The depraved act of launching an improvised explosive device into a public facility put lives at risk and will not be tolerated,” Donald Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said in a statement. “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.”