PEORIA, Ill. – A central Illinois The man was charged Wednesday with setting fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic earlier this month, federal law enforcement officials said.
Tyler W. Massengill, 32, of Chillicothe, is charged with “malicious use of fire and an explosive to damage and attempt to damage” the Peoria clinic, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
Massengill was arrested Tuesday by Peoria police. Online court records did not indicate whether he had appeared in court or had yet been assigned counsel.
The US Attorney’s Office said in a statement that security camera video showed a man approaching the building with a bottle, lighting a rag on one end, breaking a window and setting the incendiary device. inside, before quickly fleeing on foot.
Detectives said Massengill initially denied responsibility, but later acknowledged setting the fire. According to a US District Court criminal complaint, he told them his then girlfriend miscarried three years ago and it shocked him, and he reasoned that if his actions caused “a little delay” in a person receiving services at the health center, may have been “worth it”.
The attack on the clinic took place on the night of Jan. 15, two days after the state enacted sweeping reproductive health care legislation aimed at protecting abortion patients and providers.
There were no patients or staff inside, but the fire caused “massive” 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. Illinois parenthood.
“This senseless act of vandalism has robbed the community of access to birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and gender-affirming care, as well as medical abortion services,” she said Welch, describing the range of services provided by the clinic. She added: “We are delighted that an arrest has been made.”
If convicted, Massengill faces up to 40 years in prison with a minimum five-year sentence, according to the US attorney’s office statement. The charge could also result in up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.