A 19-year-old man has been taken into custody after he was found carrying a small explosive device into the South Wind Women’s Center in Kansas. Police has not released the man’s name but allege that he had made an appointment with the clinic. Whether he was at the clinic to cause harm is still unclear to authorities.
According to The Associated Press, the man’s weapons were found when he was inspected by a security officer at the time of his entry. Aside from a small explosive device that had been home-manufactured—made of fireworks that had been altered to create a powerful but localized blast—the security officer also found knives in the man’s backpack. The police and bomb squad were immediately called and the building, which clearly forbids weapons, was evacuated. The explosive was not detonated so there were no injuries to the clinic’s staff or patients.
The South Wind Women’s Center provides abortions among its services, and is only one of three centers to do so in Kansas. It opened in 2013 at a site which had previously been targeted by anti-abortion militants—a building that’s been the target of repeat attempts at violence, and the same building where Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed by an anti-abortionist in 2009, practiced.
The police are currently investigating the incident and the motives of the man in custody, but no formal charges have yet been filed. The Associated Press reports that the explosive device is likely too small to bring up federal charges.
The clinic’s founder and CEO, Julie Burkhart has released a statement on behalf of the center:
“At Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center, the safety and security of our staff and patients is our highest concern. We take safety precautions seriously and hold frequent drills to make sure all staff know how to handle any emergency situation.
Today, our staff and local law enforcement handled a threat to the safety of our patients and staff promptly and effectively. The systems that we have in place to protect our patients and staff worked.
I applaud Wichita Police Department for their prompt action today.”
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Image via KWCH