“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, which notes that the clinic, located at 1520 Nutmeg Place in Costa Mesa, was forced to close the next morning and cancel dozens of appointments. The building sustained about $1,000 worth of damage from the fire, according to the criminal filing.
The Costa Mesa Police Department and Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire, which left burn marks several feet tall, according to the document. The authorities also found liquid, broken glass and other materials that were later found to have contained gasoline near the burn marks. Nobody was injured.
On March 14, Mr. Ergul texted a friend a photo of his gloved hand holding the Molotov cocktail and said that he wished he “could’ve recorded the combustion,” according to the complaint. In early April 2022, the friend, having seen a poster issued by federal authorities seeking information, called to inform them of the message. In one of the text messages, Mr. Ergul said the Molotov cocktail went “BOOM” at the “1500 Blk nutmeg plaza … Costa Mesa health center/Planned Parenthood clinic,” according to the complaint.
The episode is part of a history of violent attacks on facilities or doctors providing abortions in the United States, including several in recent years. On Dec. 31, 2021, a fire later determined to be arson completely destroyed a clinic in Knoxville, Tenn. In January, a man firebombed another clinic in Peoria, Ill., citing his former girlfriend’s abortion.
Reached by phone, Kate Corrigan, the lawyer for Mr. Brennan, acknowledged that the charges were “very serious.” She added, “we take them seriously and we’ll be defending them accordingly.” Mr. Ergul’s lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.