An Illinois man has been charged in federal court for an arson attack on a Planned Parenthood facility in Peoria, Illinois.
According to the criminal complaint, on the evening of January 15, 2023, 32-year-old Tyler Massengill of Chillicothe approached the facility on foot with a “laundry-detergent-sized bottle. [He] allegedly lit a rag on fire on one end of the bottle, smashed a window with an object, then placed the container inside of the building. The subject then quickly left the area on foot.”
The resulting damage is estimated at $1 million to repair. The facility, which provides the abortion pill up to 11 weeks, is expected to close for several months. A banner on the facility’s website reads, “Available by phone and telehealth only from 01/20/23 until further notice.”
According to local news reports, after the incident, Massengill paid a female friend $300 to paint the red doors on his white truck to match the rest of the vehicle. The unusual appearance of the truck eventually led to his arrest after nearby surveillance camera footage at the time of the crime showed the vehicle parked in a lot adjacent to Planned Parenthood. Massengill’s female friend contacted law enforcement after still images of the truck were released to the public. The vehicle was seized from her garage on January 23rd, and Massengill contacted the police by phone on the 24th.
Massengill initially denied involvement in the incident, claiming his vehicle had been borrowed that night, but later changed his story and said he was “triggered” by the recollection of an abortion his past girlfriend had without his knowledge three years prior, while he was away in Alaska.
Massengill confessed to breaking the window and lighting the building on fire, reportedly telling police that if the damage he inflicted on the facility led to “a little delay” in the facility’s business, then it was “all worth it.”
Massengill was arrested by police that evening and was charged by a federal judge the next day with having “maliciously damaged and destroyed, and attempted to damage and destroy, by means of fire and an explosive, a building used in interstate commerce and engaged in activity affecting interstate commerce.” He is being held in jail until his next court appearance on February 1. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a minimum of five to 40 years in prison, as well as three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
A career criminal, Massengill has had 20 years of run-ins with the law and 26 known arrests in Peoria County alone, beginning with driving without a license at the age of 13. His offenses include violent mob action in 2011 and 2013, jail time in 2007 for burglary and again in 2016 for theft, and more. At the time of the arson, he was on probation for a February 2022 domestic battery incident and a March 2022 aggravated assault with criminal trespass to a residence, according to Peoria County court records.
Local law enforcement’s swift resolution of this arson attack stands in stark contrast to the slow or apparently nonexistent response of federal law enforcement to attacks on pro-life facilities across the country. On January 19, the FBI announced a $25,000 reward for information on “a series of attacks against reproductive health service facilities….” More accurately, the FBI was referring to pro-life pregnancy resource centers that were targeted in 2022. The DOJ has been largely silent on these attacks until now, despite the fact that FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that 70% of the attacks related to the anticipated (and eventual) reversal of Roe v. Wade last year actually targeted pro-life groups, pregnancy centers, and churches.
On January 24, Live Action News reported that two individuals had been indicted by a grand jury for their role in attacks on three Florida pro-life centers last summer. Additionally, earlier this month, the FBI finally announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrests in a Georgia vandalism incident of pro-abortion graffiti on a Baptist church that occurred in July 2022.
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