KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A man arrested and accused of starting a fire at a Planned Parenthood in Kalamazoo had posted a video calling abortion “genocide,” authorities say.
Joshua Brereton, a 25-year-old from Paw Paw, has been federally charged with arson, the United States Attorney’s Office Western District of Michigan said in a Thursday release. He will appear in federal court on Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office told News 8.
The fire happened around 4:10 p.m. on Sunday, July 31 at the Planned Parenthood on West Michigan Avenue near S. Drake Road in Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo police say first responders were able to put the fire out in under 10 minutes.
Planned Parenthood was closed the next day due to the fire, court records say.
No one was inside at the time and only the outside of the building was damaged.
Police released a surveillance photo of a suspect on Aug. 1. An affidavit says someone who saw the photo sent a tip to Kalamazoo Silent Observer identifying the suspect as Brereton.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Brereton was allegedly caught on a surveillance camera getting past the 6-foot tall fence that surrounded the building and then using a combustible fuel to set fire to some bushes. It said he also lit a fireplace starter log and threw it onto the roof.
He ran from the building after the two fires had started, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Brereton had allegedly bought citronella torch fuel, a Duraflame starter log and a utility lighter from a Paw Paw Walmart about an hour before the fire, along with a baseball cap that looks like one seen in surveillance footage, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Court documents say he was seen in surveillance footage making the purchases and that he paid in cash.
Brereton was arrested on Wednesday. News 8 spoke with one of his neighbors who saw several officers and detectives at his complex that evening searching Brereton’s vehicle and dumpster.
In his apartment, the attorney’s office said investigators found two 12-gauge shotguns, an AR-style rifle, two handguns and the baseball hat. Detectives also recovered another handgun in his car. Investigators did say Brereton has a valid concealed pistol license.
Authorities say he had previously called abortion “genocide” in a YouTube video he posted and told viewers to “step out of your comfort zone.”
“Lend a hand,” court documents report him saying in the video, posted in early July. “Change society from the inside out. Don’t put it on someone else and let it trickle down. It doesn’t trickle down.”
If convicted, he faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison.
— News 8’s Byron Tollefson contributed to this report.