Man admits to firebombing California Planned Parenthood clinic

Man admits to firebombing California Planned Parenthood clinic

An Irvine man admitted Thursday to firebombing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa and plotting to attack an electrical substation in Orange. He also acknowledged discussing a planned attack at Dodger Stadium during an LGBTQ pride event.

Tibet Ergul, 22, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility and one misdemeanor count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility.

“This defendant’s hateful ideology led him down a dark path of plotting to harm others,” United States Attorney Martin Estrada said in a written statement. “The breadth of his and his co-conspirators’ violent plans is chilling. They planned to attack the power grid to start a race war, target Dodger Stadium on Pride Night, and bomb a second reproductive health services clinic. This reminds us of why it is critical that all of us unite against hate in our community.”

Two admitted co-conspirators — Chance Brannon, a 24-year-old Marine from San Juan Capistrano, and Xavier Batten, a 21-year-old Florida resident — previously accepted their own plea deals and like Ergul are now awaiting sentencing.

During the early morning hours of March 12, 2022, Ergul and Brannon — who at the time was an active-duty Marine — ignited a Molotov cocktail and threw it against the front door of the Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood Clinic.

The two masked men then ran away, as a wall next to the clinic door erupted in fire and the flames spread up to the ceiling before firefighters arrived to extinguish the blaze.

No one was injured, but around 30 appointments were canceled when the clinic was forced to close the following morning.

Brannon and Ergul were identified by a tipster after a $25,000 reward for information was offered. The tipster provided the FBI with a text message from Ergul allegedly admitting to his role in the firebombing.

FBI agents during a search of the pair’s digital devices were led to Batten. Brannon and Ergul allegedly decided what to target, and obtained the necessary materials, while Batten offered advice on how to actually contract the Molotov cocktail and encouraged the other two to attack the clinic.

According to federal prosecutors, Ergul and Brannon wanted to “make a statement about abortion” and to “scare pregnant women away from obtaining aborts,” and to “deter doctors, staff and employees at the clinic from providing abortions.”

In June 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe V. Wade, Ergul and Brannon began to plan a second firebomb attack at another Planned Parenthood clinic but abandoned the plan after seeing law enforcement near that facility, according to prosecutors.

The pair also planned, but did not carry out prior to their arrest, two other attacks.

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The two wanted to debilitate Orange County’s power grid by damaging a Southern California Edison electrical substation in Orange, according to Ergul’s plea deal. Ergul sent someone else an aerial photograph of the substation and suggested doing a “drive-thru at 3 a.m,” according to the plea deal. He also admitted to sending Brannon a letter outlining his desire to murder politicians and journalists in which he wrote “The rifle is in a box in my room waiting to be used in the upcoming race war.”

Ergul also admitted that he and Brannon discussed and researched how to attack the parking lot or electrical room of Dodger Stadium on a night celebrating LGBTQ pride. The pair talked about using a device that could be detonated remotely, exchanged “sabotage manuals” and discussed doing “dry runs” in order to “case the stadium,” according to the plea deal.

Prosecutors noted that the men were arrested two days before a scheduled “Pride Night” at Dodger Stadium.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors have agreed to seek a sentence of between five years and six-and-a-half years in federal prison for Ergul. He is scheduled to return to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney for sentencing on May 30.