AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas woman was arrested Monday night after she allegedly threw a homemade Molotov bomb at a group of pro-lifers praying outside of a Planned Parenthood facility in Austin.
Melanie Toney, 52, was taken into custody after witnesses to the incident were able to write down part of her license plate number and call police. She now faces charges of aggravated assault.
The incident occurred outside of Planned Parenthood’s South Austin Health Center at approximately 6 p.m. on Monday, as a woman was seen slowly driving up to the location. Members of 40 Days for Life and the Texas Coalition for Life had been standing outside of the facility that day praying for the plight of the unborn.
Ruth Allwein with 40 Days for Life told local television station KXAN that she initially thought that perhaps the woman was pulling up to ask for information, but then realized that something was terribly wrong.
“I realized she was throwing something out the window and it was on fire,” Allwein explained. “It had a lit wick, so my first instinct was to back away, then I wasn’t sure what to do.”
She decided to approach the object and stomp out the fire.
“I ended up coming over and stamping on it, so it was a little bit nerve-racking,” Allwein outlined. “I thought about leaving it alone but then my thought was, ‘What if it explodes, what’s going to happen?’ So I decided it was worth coming back coming back over here and doing something about it.”
The Austin police and bomb squad arrived on the scene, and discovered a determined that a paper towel wrapped around a wick had been placed in a Gumout gas treatment bottle, which was then lit on fire. The homemade explosive, called a Molotov cocktail, thankfully did not ignite as it fell on a soft, grassy area of the property, police stated. Had it exploded, the situation could have been much worse.
“This is definitely the first time that something of this nature has been thrown at us that’s actually threatened and put people in danger, so it’s obviously very alarming,” Heather Gardner, executive director of Central Texas Coalition for Life, told reporters.
Toney was arrested just a few miles from the facility. She initially denied any involvement in the incident, but later admitted that the bomb “might” have been lit before she threw it out the car window.
A motive is still being determined in the matter.
“We know that many women are hurting from past abortion experiences,” Gardner told Life News. “One of the ways people sometimes lash out is through anger and violence. We pray for this woman and pray for healing in her heart if she is hurting from a past abortion.”