Copyright © 1997 AFLM
May/June, 1997 Volume XII Number 6 - IN THE NATION
Bakersfield man fails in torch attempt on abortuarty
Bakersfield, CA -- A 44-year-old Bakersfield man accused of trying to burn the only local abortion clinic was expected to be arraigned in connection with the botched attempt on March 19. But because of federal charges that were said to have been filed against Peter Andrew Howard, local officials said he wouldn't have to face the state charges.
Howard, who has demonstrated against abortions, drove a pickup carrying propane tanks through the front door of a clinic on March 17. There was no explosion and damage was minor.
A police bomb squad found three five-gallon bottles of propane in the back of the pickup, along with containers that may have held gasoline.
Federal Magistrate Louis P. Etcheverry of Bakersfield found probable cause to charge Howard with a federal felony count of destroying or attempting to destroy, by means of fire or explosives, a building used in interstate commerce, said FBI agent Allan Rogers, who is in charge of the Bakersfield bureau.
The finding in a warrant signed by Etcheverry was based on an affidavit submitted by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) office in Bakersfield, which conducted an investigation into the Monday morning incident at the Family Planning Associates clinic, 2500 H St.
The FBI also investigated.
Howard remains in Lerdo jail on the federal warrant. The charge carries a possible term of 20 years in federal prison.
Howard was arrested about 2:20 a.m. on March 17 after police say he drove his pickup, which contained gasoline and propane, through the front doors of the Family Planning Associates clinic. Police said he set the vehicle on fire but a security guard was able to put the fire out. Neither the security guard nor Howard was injured in the incident.