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Man charged with setting fire to Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri

A Missouri man is in custody after he allegedly set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic last month. Wesley Brian Kaster, 42, of Columbia, was arrested and charged Saturday for attempting to burn down the building with a Molotov cocktail, CBS Jefferson City affiliate KRCG-TV reported.

The criminal complaint, filed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, noted authorities identified Kaster through a review of surveillance videos and said Kaster made two attempts to set the clinic on fire Feb. 10. 

Kaster first threw a "Molotov cocktail-type device inside the building" before driving off, but surveillance videos showed no smoke or fire occurred at that time, the complaint said. He returned an hour later and approached a broken glass door while holding an indiscernible item. Security footage showed smoke billowing out of the door before he fled the scene.

Firefighters found two buckets that contained gasoline and remnants of a Molotov cocktail at the scene. Authorities searched Kaster's vehicle and found evidence discovered at the crime scene.

Cole County Sheriff's Office
Wesley Brian Kaster Cole County Sheriff's Office via AP

Authorities were able to track Kaster by reviewing Toyota Sienna license plate numbers in Columbia and linking his vehicle with the one seen in surveillance footage. Authorities reviewed surveillance footage of a Columbia-area Lowe's hardware store, which showed Kaster buying supplies that were used in the alleged arson.

Investigators also viewed social media posts connected to Kaster. One picture drew particular attention: an Oct. 25, 2015, photo on the Facebook page of Kaster's wife depicting a handgun and the words, "Guns Don't Kill People, Planned Parenthood Kills People."

Kaster is now in federal custody, awaiting a hearing on Thursday, March 7, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains president and CEO Dr. Brandon J. Hill released a statement praising authorities Monday.

"We are grateful for law enforcement's swift and serious response to this crime. Let this send a clear message: Blocking access to essential health care is against the law, whether it takes the form of violence and vandalism or threats against our patients, our providers, or our supporters. With sexual and reproductive health care under attack in Missouri, our mission is more important than ever before," the statement said.

"Health care is a human right, and we will not stop fighting for the rights of our patients. Our doors are open in Columbia, and we remain committed to serving this community."