Reward offered for woman who set Wyoming abortion clinic on fire

IronHeart/Getty Images

(CASPER, Wyo.) — A $5,000 reward has been offered after a women set fire to a planned abortion clinic in Wyoming on May 25, according to new police footage.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offered the reward on Wednesday, as a woman was shown in security footage released by local police.

The Casper Police Department released the 30-second video, which shows the suspect in a hooded shirt and surgical mask carrying what appears to be a red fuel tank through an empty room within the clinic. The video shows the woman then crouching in a doorway with the tank.

According to a statement from police on Tuesday, the suspect in the video is a white woman, between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches tall and of medium build. Police added that the suspect entered the building around 3:30 a.m. and that they believe the suspect acted alone.

The fire began early in the morning and firefighters arrived at the scene to find a broken window and smoke coming out of a corner of the building.

A witness who called police said they heard glass breaking and saw a person leaving the area carrying a gas can and a black bag, according to police.

“While this act of destruction is profoundly upsetting and presents new challenges, we remain unwavering in our commitment to ensuring that the people of Casper can access the reproductive health care they need,” Wellspring Health Access founder Julie Burkhart said in a statement.

According to organizers of the clinic, because of the damage from the fire, the clinic will not open for an additional six months after its planned opening. The building affected was being renovated and slated to open in mid-June as the only facility of its kind in the state.

“When the needed repairs have been completed, we will open our clinic with the goal of providing the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including OB-GYN care, family planning, gender-affirming care and abortion care,” Burkhart added.

The Wellspring Health Access clinic in Casper has faced regular anti-abortion protests.

The damage to the clinic means that women will have even more restrictions to care in the state. Wyoming is one of 13 states who pledged to ban all or nearly all abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in an upcoming decision.

In March, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill into law that would prohibit most abortions, should Roe be overturned. The bill includes exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, incest or to protect the mother from death or serious medical harm not involving mental health.

Already, abortion is limited within the state, as there are no doctors performing abortions in Wyoming. The only access women have to abortions in the state is through a medication abortion, which there is also limited access to, and can only be performed within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.