FBI Offers $10,000 Reward For Information On Fire At Columbia Planned Parenthood Clinic
This story was updated at 5:39 p.m. to add comments from Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever set a fire at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri, that has forced it to close.
The blaze was reported shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday. No one was in the building at the time, and it was extinguished by the clinic’s sprinkler system.
An individual wearing dark-colored clothing was seen on surveillance video walking onto the clinic's grounds, according to the FBI. The bureau said the same individual was captured on video leaving the grounds as smoke poured out of the building.
The FBI said it has opened a federal hate-crime investigation and is investigating the incident along with Columbia police and the Columbia fire department.
Emily Miller, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which is based in Overland Park and operates the clinic, said Planned Parenthood hopes to reopen the building in a few days. In the meantime, she said, patient appointments are being rescheduled.
In a statement it issued late Tuesday afternoon, Planned Parenthood Great Plains said it was “clear that this was an intentional effort to damage our facility in order to disrupt services and block patient access to sexual and reproductive health care.”
“Make no mistake — we are committed to providing care in the Columbia community, and this crime will not deter us from our mission,” it said. “Our patients rely on us each day, and with a strong community of supporters beside us, we will reopen our doors as soon as possible.”
The clinic currently does not perform abortions. It’s awaiting a ruling in a court case challenging Missouri’s requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Planned Parenthood has been unable to find a local hospital willing to offer such privileges.
Right now, the only Planned Parenthood clinic offering surgical abortions in Missouri is its health center in St. Louis. Its clinic in midtown Kansas City offers medication abortions, a procedure involving the administration of two pills.
The Columbia clinic provides family planning services, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, cancer screenings, transgender care and other health services.
The FBI is asking anyone with information on the individual who set the fire to call its Jefferson City office at 573-636-8814 or submit a tip online at fbi.gov/tips.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies .
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