Police arrested a suspect Tuesday in the recent firebombing of a family planning clinic in Illinois, and the man told investigators he was motivated in part by his upset that his ex-girlfriend had an abortion rather than having a child with him.
According to a Justice Department press release, the suspect is Tyler Massengill, 32, who was caught by surveillance cameras walking toward a Peoria, Ill., Planned Parenthood on Jan. 15 holding a bottle of laundry detergent with a rag in it. He set the rag on fire, smashed a window, then put the bottle inside the building before fleeing. The fire caused approximately $150,000 in damage and the clinic may not reopen for several months.
Massengill initially denied setting the fire before telling the FBI that about three years ago he was in a relationship with a person from Peoria who became pregnant and then told her over the phone that she got pregnant. had an abortion, which upset him, according to the criminal. complaint filed in the United States District Court. He said he “heard or saw something” around January 15 that reminded him of the abortion, which made him angry. (It’s unclear what reminded Massengill of abortion, but on January 13, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D) signed an abortion rights bill that protects people traveling into the state for abortions and protects the medical licenses of health care providers who provide care in Illinois that may be illegal in other states.) Massengill also said that if the fire had caused it would not What a “little delay” for people to receive care at the clinic, his crimes may have been worth it. »
He now faces federal arson charges. If convicted, Massengill faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and could go up to 40 years. The charges also carry up to three years of supervised release and a potential fine of up to $250,000.
Her white van with at least one red door was captured in surveillance footage near the clinic, and a tipster told law enforcement she had her truck in her garage about 25 miles away since the day after the fire. Massengill apparently had the woman keep the truck there and arranged for her to paint the doors white for $300. The FBI seized the truck on Monday and it turned itself in a day later.
The New York Times reports that Massengill previously served time in prison for burglary and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in March 2022.
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