FBI offers $25K to ID suspects who firebombed Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood in March
FBI officials are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of two individuals caught on video in March throwing a Molotov cocktail at the door of a Planned Parenthood health center in Costa Mesa.
The incident took place at around 1 a.m. on March 13, when two unidentified suspects were seen on video taken by a nearby surveillance camera throwing a crude incendiary device at the door of a medical suite in Costa Mesa, according to a release issued Thursday by the bureau’s Los Angeles field office.
Costa Mesa Fire Chief Chris Coates confirmed Thursday a fire investigation was conducted at a building on the 1500 block of Nutmeg Place, where a Planned Parenthood health center operates, but said the fire was out by the time responders arrived on scene.
One suspect seen on video wore a blue hooded sweatshirt, dark-colored pants and a multi-colored facial covering, while the other was shown in a black hooded sweatshirt and gloves, jeans, a dark-colored facial covering and black shoes with white trim, the release indicated.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the individuals could potentially face charges related to terrorism and civil rights violations, which would carry a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison.
“If you throw a Molotov cocktail and potentially kill someone, it’s considered to be an act of terror,” she said Thursday. “It could also be considered a civil rights violation if you were trying to restrict access to [health services] for someone.”
The Costa Mesa reward is one of several being offered by the FBI as part of a nationwide crackdown against attacks and threats targeting reproductive health service facilities in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June reversing federal protections for individuals seeking abortions.
Agency officials announced the initiative Thursday, indicating the FBI planned to investigate such incidents as possible acts of domestic violent extremism, violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act or other crimes.
At least nine other incidents of arson and vandalism against such facilities are being investigated in Oregon, Washington, New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Wisconsin, North Carolina — most taking place between May and July of last year.
“After the Dobbs decision, we saw an uptick in attacks on reproductive health facilities, whether they be pregnancy centers or Planned Parenthood sites,” Eimiller said Thursday. “So, we have a lot of cases at this time and are hoping this reward brings people forward to solve them.”
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 Thursday. “[We] will continue to provide expert, compassionate care for the community as we have done for over 50 years.”
FBI agents are working with the Costa Mesa Police Department on the investigation. Anyone with information on the incident or suspects is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), contact their local FBI office or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.