Man who set off firebombs at plantation clinic in California sentenced to 6 years in prison

An Irvine man who firebombed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa and planned but didn’t perform attacks on an influence substation in Orange and at Dodger Stadium during an LGBTQ Pride event was sentenced Thursday to 6 years in a federal prison.

Tibet Ergul, pleaded guilty earlier this yr for one felony count of conspiracy to wreck an energy facility and one misdemeanor count of intentionally damaging a reproductive health care facility. Two of Ergul's co-defendants also accepted plea deals and were sentenced to prison.

In the early morning hours of March 12, 2022, Ergul and Chance Brannon – a 24-year-old from San Juan Capistrano who was an lively Marine on the time – lit a Molotov cocktail and threw it at the doorway door of the Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood Clinic.

The two men – who were wearing masks – ran away as flames shot up from a wall next to the clinic door to the ceiling. Firefighters quickly extinguished the hearth without anyone being injured. But the damage from the hearth forced the clinic to cancel around 30 appointments the following day.

Federal officials had offered a $25,000 reward for information. An informant gave the FBI a text message through which Ergul allegedly admitted his role within the arson attack.

A search of Ergul and Brannon's digital devices led them to Xavier Batten, a 21-year-old Florida resident. Brannon and Ergul decided to attack the clinic and obtained the vital materials, prosecutors said, while Batten gave them advice on easy methods to construct the Molotov cocktail and urged them to perform the attack..

Ergul and Brannon desired to “make a statement about abortion” and “discourage pregnant women from having an abortion” in addition to “discourage doctors, staff and clinic employees from performing abortions,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

In June 2022, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 2 planned a second firebombing of one other Planned Parenthood clinic at an undisclosed location, but abandoned their efforts once they saw cops near the ability, prosecutors said.

As a part of his confession, Ergul admitted that he and Brannon had planned two more attacks but didn’t carry them out before their arrest.

Ergul admitted that he sent someone an aerial photo of a Southern California Edison substation in Orange and suggested doing a “3 a.m. drive-thru.” The pair wanted to wreck the substation in an try and take down Orange County's power grid, prosecutors wrote.

And Ergul admitted that he and Brannon discussed and researched the opportunity of an attack on the Dodger Stadium parking zone or electrical room on an evening the team was celebrating LGBTQ Pride. They considered constructing a remote-controlled explosive device, exchanged “sabotage manuals” and discussed conducting “dry runs” to “scout the stadium,” in response to Ergul's agreement.

The two men were arrested two days before a planned “Pride Night” at Dodger Stadium.

Ergul also admitted in his confession that he sent Brannon a letter through which he spoke of his desire to assassinate politicians and journalists. In the letter, he wrote: “The rifle is in a box in my room, waiting to be used in the coming race war,” prosecutors said.

“This defendant's hatred of others drove him to plan and carry out violence,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada wrote in an announcement after Ergul's conviction. “We will not allow bigoted intolerance to divide us.”

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, who handed down the sentence, said the defendant was not as “guilty” as Brannon, the leader of the attacks. “It is clear that Mr. Brannon had a negative influence on Mr. Ergul,” the judge said.

Ergul, who immigrated from Turkey, had trouble fitting in in Newport Beach, Carney said.

“He didn't fit in well with the teenagers in Newport Beach and was bullied,” he said. He also suffers from bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder and ADHD, the judge added.

Carney praised Ergul for participating in classes and self-help programs while in prison.

“I want you to know that I am ashamed,” Ergul told Carney. “This country has given me everything. … In Turkey, I would not have had it and I squandered it all.” He added that he regretted doing something that “divides” people.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” he said. “I know what I did was wrong… I was educated, I was intelligent, I thought I was a productive member of society. But I just blocked it all out with my hatred.”

He asked to be sent to a jail where he could proceed his education and attend a drug rehabilitation program. Carney advisable him, declaring that his drug addiction influenced his behavior in committing crimes.

Carney told him: “You obviously have great potential, the way you write and speak… It is never too late to change and rehabilitate yourself.”

Noting that the defendant's father flew in from Turkey for Thursday's hearing, Carney said: “Mr. Ergul, in some ways you are a very lucky man. Despite everything you have done, there are people who love you very much and are coming to this hearing… It is a testament to how much they love you.”

Ergul still faces domestic violence charges in Arizona for attacking a roommate while under the influence of LSD, Carney said.

Last month, Brannon was sentenced to nine years in a federal prison. Earlier this month Batten was sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison.

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