Police: Bag on Missouri Clinic Roof Failed Try at Arson

October 8, 2013

Investigators say they’re looking into a failed arson attempt at a southwest Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic after a bag containing incendiary material was found on the roof.

Surveillance video from the facility in Joplin shows a person dressed in a hooded sweatshirt approach the back of the building around midnight on Oct. 3 and throw the bag onto the roof, The Joplin Globe reported.

An employee arriving at work the next night noticed the bag and contacted police. Because of the bag’s contents, the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined local and state fire investigators in the probe.

There was no fire and no damage to the building, Joplin police Lt. Matt Stewart said, but investigators are treating it as an arson attempt because of what was in the bag.

He declined to describe the material, other than to say it was incendiary.

Though he also declined to describe the bag, grainy surveillance photos released by police show the suspect carrying something that resembles a backpack. It wasn’t clear from the photos whether the person was a man or a woman.

Police have not disclosed how ignition was intended to happen or why it failed. Stewart declined to say if any type of communication had been found indicating why someone would have tried to start a fire at the facility.

The method – throwing incendiary material onto a building – is similar to the one used at the Islamic Society of Joplin’s mosque on July 4, 2012. In that case, a man dressed in dark clothes was seen on surveillance video lighting a fuse on a package and throwing it onto the mosque’s roof. It sparked a small fire that caused only minor damage to the mosque.

About a month later, the mosque was destroyed by a second fire. The cause of that blaze has not been determined.

Investigators haven’t found any links between the mosque and Planned Parenthood incidents, Stewart said.

“There don’t appear to be any connections at all at this time,” he said.

Topics Law Enforcement Missouri Arson

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