An 18-year-old man approached a Planned Parenthood facility just steps from the University of Delaware campus about 2 a.m. Friday, spray-painted a Latin phrase meaning “God wills it” on the facade, and then threw a lit object at the front wall, where it exploded and began to burn.
The device extinguished itself after about a minute, but it damaged the window and porch of the building in the process.
That’s according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware, which announced that Samuel James Gulick, 18, of Middletown, Del., was arrested Saturday and charged with maliciously damaging a building with fire or a destructive device and intentionally damaging a facility that provides reproductive health services. Gulick was identified by investigators by his license plate and then in part by his Instagram account, which included antiabortion posts.
FBI agents investigating the incident said in court papers that an employee of the Planned Parenthood facility at 140 E. Delaware Ave. in Newark arrived at the office to find it damaged and the words “Deus Vult” — the Latin religious phrase — as well as “religious symbols" spray-painted on the front of the building.
Prosecutors say surveillance video shows a man approaching the Planned Parenthood at night, spray-painting the front, and then throwing the lit incendiary device. An official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives worked with investigators and concluded the device “appears to be a Molotov cocktail,” an FBI agent wrote in charging documents. Typically, a Molotov cocktail is a bomb made with a bottle of flammable liquid and a wick of some type.
While the man in the surveillance video fled immediately after tossing the device, investigators identified him via his license plate. Then they found him on Instagram. “Deus Vult” was in his bio, and several posts show antiabortion ideology. His avatar was Pepe the Frog, a cartoon appropriated by the far-right that has become a meme described by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol.
If Gulick is convicted of the most serious charge, maliciously damaging the facility, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.