Video captures woman setting fire to Wyoming’s 1st surgical abortion clinic – National

Federal authorities are offering a US$5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of a masked woman who set fire to an abortion clinic in Wyoming late last month.

As part of law enforcement’s appeal for the public’s help, the Casper Police Department released surveillance footage of the arson on Tuesday in hopes that someone can identify the suspect. . The Denver Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Field Division has been working with local law enforcement on the investigation since the fire occurred May 25.

The 30 seconds of footage released shows a person wearing a blue hoodie and surgical mask carrying a red fuel canister in a room at the Wellspring Health Access clinic in Casper before police say the suspect “intentionally (put ) fire to the building”.

The suspect is a woman who acted alone, according to a police statement. She is described as having a medium build and is around five feet six inches to five feet eight inches tall.

The story continues under the ad

This image taken from surveillance footage captured at the Wellspring Health Access clinic in Casper, Wyoming, shows a woman who police say intentionally set the abortion clinic on fire.

Casper Police Department

Casper police were alerted to the arson after a caller reported hearing glass shattering and seeing a person leaving the area near the abortion clinic carrying a can of gasoline and a black bag. Officers arrived around 3:50 a.m. and found a broken window and smoke billowing from the establishment.

The fire was put out quickly and investigators found that fire accelerator had been used in several areas of the clinic.

Police say the suspect removed his surgical mask for a moment while spraying the Wellness Health Access clinic with what appears to be a fire accelerant on May 25, 2022.

Police say the suspect removed his surgical mask for a moment while spraying the Wellspring Health Access clinic with what appears to be a fire accelerant on May 25, 2022.

Casper Police Department

The Wellspring Health Access clinic was scheduled to open in mid-June and would have been the first clinic in the state of Wyoming to offer surgical abortions. There is only another abortion clinic in Wyoming, which is located in Jackson, but it only offers medical abortions, in which a pill is provided to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks after conception.

The story continues under the ad

Wyoming residents who wish to have a surgical abortion should drive to clinics in Fort Collins, Colorado (about 200 miles from Casper) or Billings, Montana. (about 430 kilometers from Casper).

According to clinic website, the location of the facility was “strategically located” in an “abortion desert” – where access to abortions is limited to non-existent. It was intended to serve residents not only of Wyoming, but also of low-access areas of “western Nebraska, western South Dakota, and the southeast corner of Montana.”

A photo of the Wellspring Health Access clinic in Casper, Wyo.

Access to Wellspring Health

The May 25 fire damaged a building that was being renovated and delayed the clinic’s opening by six months, according to a clinic statement.

“Despite these setbacks, we are undeterred in our mission to give the people of Casper access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care,” Wellspring founder Julie Burkhart wrote in the communicated.

The story continues under the ad

In April, the clinic was the scene of a demonstration attended by 150 people which marked the start of regular anti-abortion protests at the facility.

Read more:

‘I’ll never forgive them’ – Injured Uvalde teacher calls police ‘cowards’

Due to the fire, the clinic may not be able to provide abortions until an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling could overturn Roe v. Wade. Wyoming is among 13 states that would ban all or nearly all abortions if the court overturns the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.

A draft Supreme Court ruling that was leaked in May would overturn the landmark case.

Under a bill signed into law in March by Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, Wyoming would ban most abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Exceptions would include cases of rape or incest or to protect the mother from death or serious medical harm not involving mental health.

– with files from the Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Christine E. Phillips