GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Mark Totten announced today that Joshua Brereton of Paw Paw, Michigan pled guilty to one count of arson, admitting to United States Magistrate Judge Ray Kent that he maliciously set fire to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“This fire was a senseless act of political violence,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. He continued: “In our democracy, resorting to violence is never an acceptable means to address policy disputes. Moreover, Brereton’s actions could have injured innocent citizens and first responders. Today’s guilty plea is an important step to ensure the safety of our community.”
“Arson is a heinous act of violence, and has a severe impact on the community,” said ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Craig Kailimai, “Combined resources and expertise through our state and local partnerships allowed for a quick resolve of this violent act.”
As part of his guilty plea, Brereton admitted that, on July 31, 2022, he went to Walmart in Paw Paw, where he purchased Citronella tiki torch fuel, a Duraflame fire starter log, a utility lighter, and a black baseball hat. Then, dressed in a camouflage jacket, the black hat, and hiking shoes, Brereton admitted breaching Planned Parenthood’s security fence and setting fires near the front entrance of the building as well as at the southwest corner of the building. Finally, he admitted igniting the Duraflame starter log and throwing it onto the roof of the building to start a third fire before he fled the scene.
Brereton’s plea agreement provided the court with insight into the crime’s motivation. In the agreement, Brereton admitted posting a video – entitled “The Line Between Good and Evil” – to his YouTube channel. In it, he referred to abortion as genocide. Brereton admitted posting similar anti-abortion articles and items on his Facebook page.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 6, 2023 at 1:30 p.m. before United States District Judge Paul L. Maloney. At sentencing, Brereton faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, with a maximum possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 and will be ordered to pay restitution to the victim of his crime. The plea agreement estimates the amount of restitution Brereton will be ordered to pay to be in excess of $20,000 in addition to all other penalties.
Brereton’s guilty plea followed a joint investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Carowan.