Columbia Man Charged with Arson at Planned Parenthood Clinic
A 42-year old man was arrested over the weekend for arson at Columbia Health Center (operated by Planned Parenthood Great Plains).
The arson occurred February 10.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says 42-year old Wesley Brian Kaster was arrested on Saturday and has been charged with one count of maliciously damaging a building, owned by an organization the receives federal financial assistance, by means of fire or an explosive.
Kaster remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday, March 7, 2019.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint, surveillance video from Planned Parenthood and from neighboring businesses recorded Kaster in the early morning hours of Feb. 10, 2019. He parked his Toyota Sienna minivan (missing the right front passenger-side hubcap) nearby at about 2:30 that morning and carried a seemingly heavy white bucket to the north exterior door of the Planned Parenthood building.
Kaster broke the front door, the affidavit says, placed the bucket inside the building, and threw a Molotov cocktail-type device inside the building. Kaster remained standing on the sidewalk outside the door, watching the inside. Kaster then allegedly entered the building through the broken door, however no explosion or fire was visible at the time.
At approximately 2:50 a.m., the affidavit says two unidentified pedestrians approached and Kaster fled east, walking to to where his vehicle was parked and drove away. At the time, there was no discernable smoke or active fire at the Planned Parenthood building.
Kaster reportedly returned around 4 a.m. Surveillance video recorded him walking to the Planned Parenthood door with what the affidavit describes as “an undiscernible item in his left hand.” Just after 4:00 a.m., smoke was billowing from the broken glass door of the building. Kaster then fled north and out of view.
The Columbia Fire Department received the fire alarm at the Planned Parenthood building at approximately 4:05 a.m. Firefighters observed that the north exterior door of the building, which was constructed of glass inside a frame, had been shattered and an accelerant fueled the fire that was set inside. The fire was fully extinguished by a fire sprinkler system before firefighters arrived, and only moderate damage was observed to the room and its contents. Among the evidence collected at the scene, were 2 five-gallon buckets that had contained gasoline, one inside of the other, found lying on the floor just inside the broken doorway. Investigators also reportedly recovered the remains of a Molotov cocktail.
Investigators identified 55 Toyota Sienna minivans registered by Columbia residents, one of which was registered by Kaster. They also received records from Lowe’s for a list of all recent purchases of five-gallon buckets from area stores in 2019, which included a purchase by Kaster.
According to the affidavit, surveillance videos related to that purchase, clearly captured Kaster’s face and physical features.
Investigators contacted Kaster’s employer, a light manufacturing business in Jefferson City, where he works as a floor supervisor in the welding shop. According to the affidavit, Kaster had acquired a pair of Ansell HyFlex gloves, which are cut and abrasion resistant, and were the same make, model, color and size gloves recovered from the Planned Parenthood building.
Investigators searched social media accounts connected to Kaster. On Oct. 25, 2015, a picture had been posted to the Facebook page of Kaster’s wife depicting a handgun and the words, “Guns Don’t Kill People, Planned Parenthood Kills People.”
Multiple federal search warrants were executed on Saturday (March 2) and investigators searched Kaster’s minivan a few minutes after he left his workplace that morning and took Kaster to obtain hair specimens.
Authorities then searched Kaster’s residence, where numerous items of evidence were collected that tied Kaster to the crime scene at Planned Parenthood.