Jun 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

ATF investigating "suspicious" fire at Oregon pregnancy center

police tape

Photo: Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Seattle field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said Friday it was helping authorities in Oregon investigate a fire that was "suspicious in nature" at a pregnancy center run by a Christian organization.

Why it matters: The fire at the Gresham, Oregon, facility came after a similar anti-abortion facility in Eggertsville, New York, was damaged in an alleged arson attack earlier this week. That incident is also currently under investigation, according to the Buffalo News.

  • The U.S. government is preparing for a potential surge in political violence from the Supreme Court's ultimate ruling on abortion rights in the coming weeks.

What they're saying: First Image, the anti-abortion organization that runs the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center, said in a post on its website that a fire broke out at the facility about 3am on Friday.

  • Extensive fire damage was mostly contained to one room but there was additional water and smoke damage in other parts of the building, the organization said. No one was injured in the incident.
  • “We don’t know who’s involved in this. But there’s enough to tell us that it is suspicious in nature,” Jason McGowan, Gresham's fire battalion chief, told KOIN 6, a CBS affiliate, on Friday. “And that’s why we need to have multiple agencies looking into it and seeing what exactly happened this morning.”
  • CompassCare Community, the Christian-based anti-abortion facility in New York, said Tuesday that a fire broke out in the building, several windows were smashed and the outside of the facility was vandalized with graffiti.

The big picture: A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo from last month said that law enforcement agencies are investigating social-media threats to burn down or storm the Supreme Court building and murder justices and their clerks, as well as attacks targeting places of worship and abortion clinics, Axios' Sophia Cai and Stef W. Kight report.

  • Political acts of violence could be carried out by both anti-abortion and abortion-rights extremists, the memo stated.
  • The DHS publicly warned this week that the U.S. faces an increased threat of violence stemming in part from the court's ultimate decision.
  • A man was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his Maryland home this week. He confessed to law enforcement officials that he was having suicidal thoughts and had traveled from California to Maryland to kill Kavanaugh.

Go deeper: Man charged for attempted murder of Justice Kavanaugh

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