Molotov cocktail used in O.C. Planned Parenthood attack lands Florida man in prison

A horizontal frame of a corner of an empty room with glass on one side and white wall on other. Corner is charred black.
The aftermath of a Molotov cocktail attack on March 13, 2002, at a Planned Parenthood in Costa Mesa. (U.S Department of Justice)

A Florida man was sentenced to 3½ years in federal prison Monday for assisting two others in crafting a Molotov cocktail that was thrown at a Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood clinic in 2022, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Xavier Batten, 21, of Brooksville, Fla., pleaded guilty on Jan. 19 to one felony count of possessing an unregistered destructive device and one misdemeanor count of intentionally damaging a reproductive health services facility.

According to a news release from the federal prosecutor's office in Los Angeles, Batten told Orange County residents Chance Brannon and Tibet Ergul how to assemble the Molotov cocktail, an incendiary device which consists of flammable substances and a fuse.

A split image of two walking masked figures, both wearing hoodies over their head. Person at left is caring an object.

Brannon and Ergul built the device in Ergul’s garage on March 12, 2022, while Batten instructed them from Florida, prosecutors said. Brannon was an active-duty U.S. Marine at the time.

In the early hours of March 13, 2022, Brannon and Ergul ignited the device at a Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood clinic, starting a fire and forcing the clinic to close temporarily. The attack also forced the clinic to reschedule approximately 30 patient appointments.

Batten “counseled his co-defendant on how to build a destructive device, knowing and intending that it would be used to attack a healthcare clinic,” prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney sentenced Batten to prison time and ordered him to pay $1,000 in restitution. Batten committed a “cowardly crime” with “no empathy for women and their rights,” Carney said.

Brannon pleaded guilty in December 2023 to four federal charges: malicious destruction of property by fire and explosives, possessing an unregistered destructive device, intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility and conspiracy.

Batten’s public defender Michael Schachter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.