Irvine Man Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Firebombing Planned Parenthood Clinic

Plotting to Attack Electrical Substation in O.C.

.An Orange County man was sentenced today to 72 months in federal prison for firebombing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa in March 2022 and planning to attack an electrical substation in Orange.

Tibet Ergul, 22, of Irvine, was sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney, who also ordered him to pay $1,000 in restitution.

Ergul pleaded guilty on February 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.

"This defendant's hatred toward others led him to plotting and carrying out violence," said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. "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."

"Mr. Ergul chose violence and destruction while targeting a wide array of innocent victims with whom he disagreed ideologically, putting their lives at risk," said Amir Ehsaei, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. "The FBI and our partners on the JTTF will continue to seek out violent extremists before they strike and ask anyone with information about potential attacks to contact us immediately."

"I'm proud of the successful interagency coordination as seen in this case to prevent further acts of violence by Mr. Ergul," said Special Agent in Charge Todd Battaglia of the NCIS Marine West Field Office. "NCIS, along with our partners, remain committed to deter domestic terrorism against our fellow Americans."

In February and March of 2022, Ergul and Chance Brannon, 24, of San Juan Capistrano, agreed to use a Molotov cocktail to damage a Planned Parenthood clinic in Orange County. Ergul and Brannon, who at the time was an active-duty United States Marine, targeted the clinic because it provided reproductive health services and they wanted to encourage others to engage in similar violent acts. Ergul and Brannon also wanted to make a statement about abortion, scare pregnant women away from obtaining abortions, deter doctors, staff, and employees at the clinic from providing abortions, and intimidate the clinic's patients.

On March 12, 2022, in Ergul's garage, Ergul and Brannon knowingly assembled a Molotov cocktail. During the early morning hours of March 13, Ergul and Brannon – disguised in dark clothing, masks, hoods, and gloves – drove to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, ignited the Molotov cocktail and threw it at the clinic's entrance, intentionally starting a fire. Due to the fire and the resulting damage, the clinic was forced to temporarily close and reschedule approximately 30 patient appointments.

Ergul further admitted in his plea agreement that in June 2022, following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, he and Brannon planned to use a second Molotov cocktail to attack another Planned Parenthood clinic. Ergul and Brannon abandoned this plan after seeing law enforcement near the targeted clinic.

Ergul also conspired with others, including Brannon, to damage a Southern California Edison electrical substation to debilitate Orange County's power grid. Ergul and his accomplices planned to attack the substation by using firearms or a Molotov cocktail that Ergul possessed in his garage. Ergul and Brannon consulted with an associate about surveillance, drone operations and firearms. In March 2023, Ergul messaged an associate to say he had found a substation in Orange to target. Ergul sent the associate aerial photographs of the substation and suggested doing a "drive-thru" at 3 a.m. At one point, Ergul also sent Brannon a letter in which he wrote: "The rifle is in a box in my room waiting to be used in the upcoming race war" and discussed a desire to murder politicians and journalists. Ergul and Brannon did not carry out this attack prior to their arrest in this case.

During the early summer of 2023, Ergul and Brannon also discussed and researched how to attack the Dodger Stadium parking lot or the stadium's electrical room on a night celebrating LGBTQ pride, including by using a device that could be detonated remotely, Ergul admitted in his plea agreement. Brannon and Ergul exchanged sabotage manuals and discussed doing "dry runs" to "case" the stadium. Law enforcement arrested Ergul and Brannon two days before Dodger Stadium's scheduled "Pride Night."

Ergul, who has been in federal custody since June 2023, is the third and final defendant to be sentenced in this case.

Last month, Brannon was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for his role in the attack and plots. Brannon pleaded guilty in November 2023 to one count of conspiracy, one count of malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device, and one count of intentionally damaging a reproductive health services facility in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

On May 13, Judge Carney sentenced Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida, to 3½ years in federal prison for advising Ergul and Brannon on how to construct the Molotov cocktail used in the Planned Parenthood attack. Batten pleaded guilty on January 19 to one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated this matter. The Costa Mesa Police Department and the Costa Mesa Fire Department provided substantial assistance.

Assistant United States Attorney Kathrynne N. Seiden of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section is prosecuting this case with substantial assistance from Justice Department Trial Attorney Jacob Warren from the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.

 

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