CHICAGO (TUSEN) — A central Illinois man was charged Wednesday with setting fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic earlier this month, federal law enforcement said.
Tyler W. Massengill, 32, of Chillicothe, is charged with “malicious use of fire and an explosive device to damage and attempt to damage the clinic in Peoria,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Massengill was arrested Tuesday by Peoria police. Online court records did not indicate whether he had already appeared in court or had already obtained an attorney.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement that security camera footage showed a man approaching the building with a bottle, lighting a rag at one end of it, smashing a window and putting the incendiary bomb inside, before quickly detonating. fled on foot.
Investigators said Massengill initially denied responsibility, but later acknowledged setting the fire. According to a U.S. District Court criminal complaint, he told them that his then-girlfriend had an abortion three years ago and it upset him. it might have been “all worth it”.
The attack on the clinic occurred on the night of January 15, two days after the state enacted sweeping reproductive health legislation to protect abortion patients and providers.
There were no patients or staff inside, but the fire caused “extensive” damage that will cost more than $1 million and force the clinic to close for months for repairs, said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
“This senseless act of vandalism has deprived the community of access to birth control, cancer screening, STI testing and treatment, and gender-affirming care, as well as medication-abortion services,” said Welch, describing the range of services the clinic offers. She added: “We are pleased that an arrest has been made.”
If convicted, Massengill faces up to 40 years in prison with a minimum sentence of five years, according to the statement from the US Attorney’s Office. The charge also carries a three-year supervised prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
Savage serves on the Corps for the The US Express News/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.