LOS ANGELES (AP) — A convicted felon suspected of firing a BB gun at a Planned Parenthood clinic in California on multiple occasions was arrested Friday on a federal firearms charge.
Richard Chamberlin, 53, had a loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun in his car when he was stopped after one of several drive-by shooting attacks on the clinic in Pasadena last year, federal prosecutors said. He faces a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
No one was injured in the shootings, but a woman waiting for someone she accompanied to the clinic was nearly struck. Windows were shattered or damaged on several occasions and the clinic staff was rattled.
"Planned Parenthood has had to cancel patient appointments and the staff has been emotionally traumatized not knowing when the next shooting will occur,” FBI Special Agent Cody Bescript wrote in an affidavit filed with the charge.
Chamberlin told police after his May 7 arrest that Planned Parenthood was selling baby body parts, but he denied knowing where the Pasadena clinic was or having fired a BB gun at it, Bescript said.
When told there was video of him shooting at the clinic, he said: "At least the baby murderers have somebody on their side.”
A public defender listed as representing Chamberlin did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
After his arrest, Chamberlin denied having any “real” guns. But when shown the loaded handgun found in his backpack, he cursed and said he used it for protection, Bescript said. Eight BB guns were found in his car.
Chamberlin was convicted of a felony drug charge in Arizona in 2012, making it illegal for him to possess a firearm. He could face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.
The clinic, which has faced protests by anti-abortion activists, was fired on a dozen times from late June 2020 until Chamberlin's arrest.
Surveillance video from 10 of those shootings showed a Chevy Malibu similar to the one Chamberlin was driving at the time of his arrest. Several of those videos also showed his license plate.
Chamberlin was charged by the Pasadena city attorney with three firearms misdemeanors and vandalism related to the Planned Parenthood shootings.
He was at the Pasadena courthouse for a hearing Friday in that case when he was arrested by the FBI, according to spokesperson Thom Mrozek of the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Chamberlin did not enter a plea during an appearance in U.S. District Court, Mrozek said. He was ordered released on a $50,000 bond and his arraignment was scheduled for Feb. 17.
The attacks remain under investigation and Chamberlin could face additional criminal charges.
Bescript, who works in the FBI's civil rights squad, said agents were investigating violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a crime to interfere, intimidate or injure someone obtaining or providing reproductive health services or damaging such a facility.