Police: Man with gunpowder at abortion site didn't mean harm

AP News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2015 5:18 PM
Police: Man with gunpowder at abortion site didn't mean harm

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A homeless man who showed up for a job interview at a Wichita abortion clinic with a small bottle of gunpowder and a wick in his backpack didn't mean any harm, police said Tuesday.

The 19-year-old man had everything he owned in the backpack when he arrived for his interview Monday at the South Wind Women's Center, Wichita police spokesman Lt. James Espinoza said. Although the device could have blown off someone's fingers had it exploded in their hand, it was too small to damage the clinic, he added.

"It was just him having all his personal items," Espinoza said.

A security officer at the clinic, one of three in Kansas that provide abortions, searched the backpack and called police after finding knives and the bottle with gunpowder. The building was briefly evacuated.

Espinoza said the man and his friend made the device for fun and had planned to set it off in the next day or so.

"It was a very bad decision on his part, obviously," he said.

The man was arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of an explosive device and the case will be presented to the Sedgwick County district attorney's office for possible charges.

The clinic opened in 2013 in the building where Dr. George Tiller provided abortions until an anti-abortion zealot shot and killed Tiller in his church in 2009.

That building has long been the site of anti-abortion violence. An abortion rights opponent shot and wounded Tiller in both arms there in 1993, and his clinic sustained heavy damage when it was bombed in 1996.

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This story has been altered to correct the spelling of Lt. James Espinoza's name, which had been misspelled "Espinosa."