Last defendant sentenced for 2022 firebombing of Orange County Planned Parenthood

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A man who helped commit a firebombing attack at an Orange County abortion clinic and plotted other attacks in hopes of igniting a “race war” has been sentenced to six years in federal prison.

Tibet Ergul, 22, of Irvine, was the last of three defendants in the 2022 firebombing attack at a Planned Parenthood in Costa Mesa to be sentenced.

His co-conspirators, Chance Brannon, 24, of San Juan Capistrano, and Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida, were sentenced to prison earlier this year.

Ergul and Brannon began plotting the attack at Planned Parenthood in the early months of 2022, targeting the clinic specifically because it provided reproductive health services and performed abortions.

On March 12, 2022, Ergul and Brannon assembled a Molotov cocktail in Eergul’s garage and then drove to the clinic in Costa Mesa after midnight.

An image of a Molotov cocktail was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The pair, dressed in dark clothing to hide their identities, lit the explosive device and threw it at the facility entrance. A fire on the property broke out and the clinic was forced to temporarily close and reschedule dozens of patient appointments.

According to prosecutors, the two wanted to “make a statement about abortion” while scaring pregnant women, intimidating abortion providers from offering the procedure and encouraging similar violent acts.

The men chose the Costa Mesa clinic after also discussing other possible targets, including the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego — a Jewish advocacy organization, authorities said.

Ergul admitted in his plea agreement that they had planned on using another Molotov cocktail to attack another Planned Parenthood following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark court decision Roe v. Wade, which ruled that women had a constitutional right to abortion.

Surveillance footage shows Tibet Egur and Chance Brannon, who admitted to throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Planned Parenthood in Costa Mesa in March 2022.

The two came very close to following through with those plans, even driving to the location of the undisclosed clinic, but abandoned the plot after seeing law enforcement near their target.

Ergul and Brannon, who at the time was an active-duty U.S. Marine and said he was inspired by the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and neo-Nazi ideology, considered many targets for future attacks, including an electrical substation in Orange.

The two hoped to “debilitate Orange County’s power grid,” officials said, using Molotov cocktails and firearms that Ergul kept in his garage.

Ergul and Brannon discussed surveillance, drone operations and firearms with an associate and in March 2023, Ergul told others that he had located a substation to attack. He then sent that associate aerial photos of the facility and suggested doing a “drive-thru” at 3 a.m.

In a letter sent to Brannon, Ergul discussed his hopes of igniting a “race war” and voiced “a desire to murder politicians and journalists.”

The two also plotted an attack on an LGBTQ+ pride night celebration at Dodger Stadium in June 2023, discussing sabotaging the event with a “device that could be detonated remotely.” They exchanged “sabotage manuals” and talked about visiting the stadium prior to the event to scout the venue, the DOJ said.

Both Brannon and Ergul were arrested two days before that event and have remained in custody since.

Ergul pleaded guilty on Feb. 29 to one felony count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility and one misdemeanor count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility. He received a 72-month sentence after taking a plea deal.

“This defendant’s hatred toward others led him to plotting and carrying out violence,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada in a news release. “We will not allow bigoted intolerance to divide us. My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by hate in order to keep our community safe.”

Ergul was the last person to be sentenced in connection with the Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood attack.

Brannon was sentenced last month to nine years in federal prison for his role in the attack and subsequent plots. He pleaded guilty last November to counts including conspiracy, possession of explosives and intentionally damaging a reproductive health services facility.

Earlier this month, Batten, the Florida resident, was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison for “advising” Ergul and Brannon on how to construct the Molotov cocktails used in the original attack. He pleaded guilty for his role in the attack back in January.

During his sentencing, the judge called Batten’s crimes “cowardly” and said they showed “no empathy for women and their rights.”

Amir Ehsaei, acting assistant director in charge of the FBI field office in Los Angeles, said the FBI and its partners will “continue to seek out violent extremists before they strike” and urged anyone with information about potential attacks to contact authorities immediately.

“Mr. Ergul chose violence and destruction while targeting a wide array of innocent victims with whom he disagreed ideologically, putting their lives at risk,” Ehsaei said.

Last fall, another California man was sentenced to federal prison for targeting Planned Parenthood in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision, calling clinics and threatening to bomb the facilities and murder employees.

Following the reversal of the landmark ruling, abortion clinics across the country saw a sharp increase in threats and attacks, particularly in states that offer greater access to the procedure, according to a report from the National Abortion Federation. The DOJ has been tracking those acts of violence as well.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.