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Press Release

Former U.S. Marine Pleads Guilty to Firebombing a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Orange County and Admits to Planning Additional Attacks

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for firebombing a Planned Parenthood clinic in March 2022 and admitted to plotting other attacks. 

Chance Brannon, 24, of San Juan Capistrano, who was an active-duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton at the time of the offense, also admitted to making plans for additional attacks on a second Planned Parenthood clinic, a Southern California Edison substation, and an LGBTQ pride night celebration at Dodger Stadium.

Brannon pleaded guilty to all counts of the four-count indictment: conspiracy, malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, possession of an unregistered destructive device, and intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility – a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. 

Brannon has been in custody since his arrest in June 2023.

“This defendant exemplifies the insidious danger posed by domestic extremism,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “The defendant, who was a member of the U.S. military, admitted not only to attacking a Planned Parenthood facility but also to planning for attacks on the power grid and a pride celebration at Dodger Stadium. We must never waver in our commitment to protect the American people from violent extremist ideology.”

“Extremist violence fueled by an insular hatred intended to intimidate law abiding Americans will not be tolerated,” said FBI Los Angeles Assistant Director in Charge Don Alway. “It is crucial that individuals who seek reproductive health services be able to obtain them in an environment that is free from interference, intimidation, and fear. Together with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, the FBI is committed to defending the American people against such acts of cruelty.” 

“NCIS is a proud member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and we are committed to swiftly and thoroughly investigating those who perpetrate acts of terror against our fellow Americans,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Battaglia of the NCIS Marine West Field Office. “This case represents the impact of close interagency coordination and should serve as a warning that we will seek out and defeat extremist intimidation and hate that threatens access to reproductive health services.”

According to his plea agreement, in February and March of 2022, Brannon and his co-defendants – Tibet Ergul, 22, of Irvine, and Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Florida – conspired to use a Molotov cocktail to destroy a commercial property.  Brannon considered various targets, including the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego, but ultimately chose to target a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa to scare pregnant women, deter doctors and staff from providing abortion services, and encourage similar violent acts. During the early morning hours of March 13, 2022, Brannon and Ergul ignited and threw the Molotov cocktail at the clinic, striking the clinic entrance.

Brannon admitted in his plea agreement that, in May 2022, he counseled Batten on how to “get away with” committing a similar attack to the Costa Mesa one. In June 2022, following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, its 1973 ruling that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, Brannon and Ergul planned to use a second Molotov cocktail to damage or destroy a second Planned Parenthood clinic. 

Brannon further admitted that beginning sometime in 2022 and continuing through the time of their arrests, Ergul and he discussed starting a race war by attacking an electrical substation with the goal of disrupting the functioning of the power grid in Orange County. On a thumb drive disguised as a military-style necklace bearing the motto for the Marine Corps, Brannon kept a file containing an operation plan and a gear list for targeting a Southern California Edison substation. Brannon possessed several items on the gear list, including a specific rifle with “Total [N-word] Death” written in Cyrillic and a recording of the 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shooting, in which a white supremacist murdered 51 people and injured 40 others.

Throughout the early summer of 2023, Brannon and Ergul also discussed and researched how to attack Dodger Stadium on a night celebrating LGBTQ pride, including by using a remote-detonated device. As part of those conversations, Brannon shared a “WW2 sabotage manual” with Ergul, discussed doing “dry runs” to “case” the stadium, and conducted research on Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. Brannon and Ergul were arrested two days before the event.

At the time of his arrest, Brannon possessed a short-barreled rifle and two silencers, which he had not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney scheduled an April 15, 2024 sentencing hearing, at which time Brannon will face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison for each of the conspiracy and malicious destruction counts as well as a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each of those counts. The count of possession of an unregistered destructive device is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. The intentional damage to a reproductive health facility charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.

Ergul and Batten have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. They are scheduled to go to trial on March 19, 2024.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated this matter, with substantial assistance from the Costa Mesa Police Department and the Costa Mesa Fire Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Kathrynne N. Seiden of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section is prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated November 30, 2023

Domestic Terrorism
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-262