Federal authorities announce that attempted arson on clinic was aimed at stopping abortion


An Illinois man charged with crashing his car while attempting to set fire to a future abortion clinic in Danville told authorities he intended to demolish the building so it could not offer abortions. Given the opportunity, he would try again, according to the criminal complaint.

Philip Buino remains in FBI custody, federal officials said.

The abortion clinic has been at the center of a recent high-profile debate over reproductive rights in this part of eastern Illinois, with the community earlier this month controversially banning the mailing and shipping of abortion pills. passed an ordinance that created Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raul and civil liberties experts have warned city leaders that the move is illegal in Illinois, where reproductive rights protections are strong.

Bueno, 73, of Prophetstown, who has been charged with attempted arson, told police he had old tires, firewood and petrol cans in his car and planned to start the fire once he was fully inside the building. He argued the complaint.

According to the complaint, he also told law enforcement that he was “a member of a ‘relief group’ aimed at preventing the establishment of abortion clinics.”

In an interview with a federal investigator, Bueno said he was active in the anti-abortion movement in the late 1980s and 1990s and was arrested multiple times for his anti-abortion activism. He was arrested in 2019 for trespassing an abortion clinic in Peoria, according to the complaint.

“If I could sneak in with a gas can and matches, I would go in again,” Bueno told federal investigators, according to the complaint.

The complaint added that if released, he would “finish the job.”

Bueno learned earlier this month that the Danville site would be used as a reproductive health clinic and “planned to burn down and destroy the building before the clinic opened,” the complaint says. there is

Bueno is trapped in a maroon 2013 Volkswagen Passat that crashed into the front of the building early Saturday morning on the property at 600 Logan Avenue after Danville police responded to an alarm, federal officials said. discovered.

According to the complaint, Buino had in his car petrol, flares, matches to light the accelerator, and several bins of old tires and firewood to “add fuel to the fire.”

Upon reaching the building, Buino “climbed over a curb to avoid a chain blocking the entrance,” according to the complaint, before driving the Passat into the front of the building where he was stuck.

Video surveillance showed the car repeatedly backing up into the building. The complaint said the photos showed “significant damage to the building, especially the main entrance.”

“After the Passat got stuck, Mr. Buino was trapped in the car and could not get out,” the lawsuit states. “Buino said the gas spilled and he threw a red gas can out the window to ignite the gas, but the can fell upright. Buino said he intended to burn the building and his car. But he said he never got the chance because he was trapped inside the Passat and the police later arrived.”

If convicted, Buino faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, federal officials said.

The alleged raid was sparked by news that an Indiana abortionist had purchased a property at 600 North Logan, sparking a fierce debate over access to abortion in this largely rural community of about 30,000 people. It is a matter of discussion.

The former eye clinic was recently sold to the McGee Investment Group of Indianapolis, which shares the same ownership as Indianapolis abortion provider Clinic for Women, according to Indiana Secretary of State records. Include the person and address.

According to the complaint, the property was undergoing renovations to become a reproductive health clinic by the end of 2023. Located just a few miles from the Indiana state line, the clinic “was expected to serve clients from multiple states, including Illinois and Indiana,” court documents said. Are listed.

At a heated city council meeting earlier this month, just before our elected leaders narrowly passed an abortion drug ban, hundreds of demonstrators spent more than three hours voicing their views on both sides of the abortion controversy. expressed. Some of these speakers also advocated establishing abortion clinics in their areas because of the lack of reproductive health services in the area. Some condemned abortion as immoral.

Danville Police and Mayor Ricky Williams Jr. did not respond to requests for comment about the accident and attempted arson. Abortion providers in Indiana also did not respond to requests for comment.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that guaranteed abortion rights across the nation, reproductive health groups have reported unprecedented levels of violence, intimidation and harassment.

In January, another man was accused of setting fire to a family planning health center in Peoria, about 100 miles away, to delay abortion treatment.

Tyler Massengill, Chillicothe, 32, February plead guilty Light a fire. He told authorities he was upset because his ex-girlfriend had an abortion in Peoria a few years ago.

afternoon briefing

every day

Top stories selected by the editors of the Chicago Tribune delivered to your inbox every afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Massengill told investigators that “everything might have been worth it” if the fire had “delayed a little” people receiving services at the Peoria Health Center.

The fire caused $1 million in damage to the Peoria Clinic, but the building has yet to reopen, according to the Illinois Family Planning Association website. The blaze comes on the heels of Illinois passing a sweeping reproductive rights bill that expands the number of clinicians who can perform abortions and protects abortion providers and out-of-state patients.

Anti-abortion groups also report a recent increase in vandalism.

The FBI suggested in January: $25,000 reward It is seeking information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the recent series of attacks on reproductive services organizations across the country, including arson, vandalism and defacement.

Most of those alleged attacks were against anti-abortion groups. Photos on the FBI’s website show several anti-abortion and pregnancy centers damaged by alleged arson, vandalism and mission-targeted graffiti.

“Today’s announcement reflects the FBI’s determination to vigorously pursue criminal investigations against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and reproductive health clinics across the country,” the FBI said in a statement. written statement. “We will continue to work closely with national, state and local law enforcement agencies to hold accountable those who use extremist views to justify criminal acts.”

[email protected]


What do you think?

Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

Leave a Reply

Pritzker, Democrats agree on 2024 budget at Plenary

David Montgomery: Bears loss ‘robbed the fun of the game’