UPDATE, February 26, 3:36 p.m.: The state attorney general’s office is considering terrorism charges against Marckles Alcius, a Haitian national who is not a U.S. citizen, the Associated Press reports.
A Planned Parenthood clinic in New Jersey will be closed several weeks for repairs after a man allegedly drove a truck into it and injured three, including a pregnant woman.
Marckles Alcius, 31, of Lowell, Massachusetts, is accused of driving a stolen bakery delivery truck into an East Orange clinic on February 14. He faces charges included six counts of aggravated assault, two weapons offenses for using a truck as a weapon, theft of a vehicle, and attempting to cause widespread injury or damage. He is due in court Wednesday to determine whether he should be released or detained, according to Essex County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Katherine Carter.
“Our contention is this was an intentional act, not a motor vehicle accident,” Carter said in an email.
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Two patients and a staff member suffered minor injuries.
Alcius was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on Friday, and is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark pending a hearing on the detention motion filed by the prosecutor’s office.
While there was “extensive damage” to the waiting room, staffers are glad no one was seriously hurt, according to a statement from the Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey.
“The East Orange health center will be closed for repairs for several weeks, but we look forward to re-opening and continuing to provide safe, affordable, and high-quality health care in the community. We are working with the authorities on any investigation into the matter, and encourage all patients of the East Orange health center to visit one of our four other centers in Essex or Passaic counties,” the emailed statement read.
Authorities have not disclosed a possible motive for the crash as the incident is under investigation, but some media outlets have noted the defendant’s views on social media, including an article he shared from the anti-abortion group Live Action last July.
Carter told Rewire they are not calling the incident an act of terror as some news reports have reported. “To my knowledge the clinic has not been attacked before. To my knowledge he has no direct connection with this particularly Planned Parenthood Clinic,” she said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who just signed into law a bill restoring state grant funding to Planned Parenthood, said he was “angered” by last week’s incident. “At a time when women’s health care is under siege, we must protect and defend safe and affordable health care access for all,” he wrote on Twitter.
Attacks on Planned Parenthood and other health clinics have escalated in recent years, according to data from the National Abortion Federation (NAF). Statistics show “an increase in activity meant to disrupt the provision of health care at facilities, including bomb threats and obstruction of entrances. Actions like these have the potential to shut down facilities, sometimes for an entire day, thereby delaying women from obtaining the abortion care they need,” according to the 2016 violence and disruption report from NAF.