Missouri Man Charged With Arson at Planned Parenthood Clinic
The 42-year-old was caught on surveillance video using a ‘Molotov cocktail-type device’ to set fire to the building, according to the Department of Justice.
A Missouri man was charged Monday in federal court after surveillance video allegedly showed him setting fire to a Planned Parenthood Clinic last month in Columbia.
Wesley Kaster, 42, was arrested Saturday on arson charges, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
Kaster is accused of placing a “seemingly heavy” bucket inside the building and then throwing a “Molotov cocktail-type device” in the early morning hours of Feb. 10, 2019. Kaster was recorded leaving the area and returning around 4 a.m., and minutes later, the footage showed smoke billowing from the broken glass door of the building.
The fire was completely extinguished by a sprinkler system before officials from the Columbia Fire Department arrived, but authorities noted that a glass wall had been shattered and that “an accelerant fueled the fire that was set inside,” according to the criminal complaint. Investigators recovered two five-gallon buckets of gasoline near the remains of a Molotov cocktail.
The building allegedly suffered “moderate” fire damage to one room.
Authorities noted that Kaster’s wife, Cris Kaster, posted a meme to Facebook in 2015 that read “Guns Don’t Kill People, Planned Parenthood Kills People.”
FBI investigators executed federal search warrants on Saturday at Kaster’s home and minivan, where they allegedly found evidence that tied him to the scene of the crime. They also found surveillance footage of Kaster at a Lowe’s buying the same supplies used to set the fire.
Kaster will remain in federal custody until Thursday, when a detention hearing is set. His wife did not respond Monday to a request for comment.
“We are grateful for law enforcement’s swift and serious response to this crime,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO Brandon Hill said in a Monday press release.
“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,” he added. “With sexual and reproductive health care under attack in Missouri, our mission is more important than ever before. Health care is a human right, and we will not stop fighting for the rights of our patients. Our doors are open in Columbia, and we remain committed to serving this community.”