Man charged with setting fire to Planned Parenthood clinic


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 42-year-old Columbia, Missouri, man has been charged with trying to burn down a local Planned Parenthood clinic last month, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Wesley Brian Kaster was arrested Saturday after investigators searched his vehicle and found evidence linking him to the fire at the Planned Parenthood-Columbia Health Center. No one was hurt in the attack, which happened in the pre-dawn hours when the building was empty.

Kaster faces a preliminary charge of using fire or an explosive to maliciously damage a building that receives federal funding, but that could change. The FBI had said it was investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.

“All I can say at this point is that it is an ongoing investigation and we are early in the process,” Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said Monday. “A complaint is a temporary charge; this case will be presented to a federal grand jury in the near future, which could return an indictment with different or additional charges.”

Kaster’s public defender, Troy Stabenow, said Monday that he had just been assigned to the case and couldn’t immediately comment. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Exorcist Warns Against Attending Taylor Swift Concerts, Says Artist Is 'Probably' Attracting Demons

In an affidavit included with the charging documents, FBI agent Curtis Bryant said surveillance video showed a distinctive minivan park in the clinic’s lot at around 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 10 and a suspect, believed to be Kaster, break the clinic’s framed glass door, place what appeared to be two stacked 5-gallon buckets inside the building and then throw a Molotov cocktail through the door. After watching from the sidewalk for a few minutes, Kaster then went back inside the building, as no fire or smoke could be seen in the videos. Kaster then fled as two unidentified pedestrians approached but returned at around 4 a.m. holding an “undiscernible” item and approached the broken door. Smoke began billowing out about a minute later and Kaster fled, Bryant wrote.

The clinic’s sprinkler system extinguished the blaze before firefighters arrived. Only the front room with the broken door was damaged, Bryant wrote.

Firefighters found the remains of the Molotov cocktail and two 5-gallon buckets near spilled gasoline inside the clinic.

Bryant wrote that investigators used surveillance video to connect the minivan and items left at the scene Kaster, who was working at a light manufacturing business in Jefferson City.

Online court records don’t show any past criminal charges against Kaster.

Dr. Brandon Hill, who heads Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a statement Monday that the organization was grateful for law enforcement’s swift response to the fire.

“Let this send a clear message: Blocking access to essential health care is against the law, whether it takes the form of violence and vandalism or threats against our patients, our providers, or our supporters” Hill said. “With sexual and reproductive health care under attack in Missouri, our mission is more important than ever before.”

The Columbia clinic, which reopened Feb. 18, does not currently provide abortions. U.S. Western District Court Judge Brian Wimes ruled Feb. 22 that state restrictions on abortion were not “undue” burdens on women seeking abortions in Missouri. Regulations that took effect last year require doctors that perform abortions to have admitting physician privileges at nearby hospitals. The Columbia clinic has not been able to finding a doctor with such privileges since the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia stopped offering the privileges in 2015.


GOP Holding Biden's Overseas Aid as Bargaining Chip in Order to Get Massive Victory on Immigration

Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City contributed to this report.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City