Robert F. Weiler Jr., who federal authorities say had a plan to bomb a College Park clinic that provides abortions, is to be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
Weiler, 25, was arrested at a Western Maryland highway stop this week and charged with unlawful possession of a pipe bomb and other offenses. The bomb was found in the closet of a friend's home in Riverdale in Prince George's County, authorities said, and was partially detonated after police bomb technicians were unable to disable it using a robot.
At the time of his arrest, a .40-caliber handgun Weiler allegedly stole from a friend was in the glove compartment of his car. Weiler intended to use the bomb and gun to "shoot doctors who provided abortions," according to an affidavit filed in the court by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Business continued as usual yesterday at the Metropolitan Family Planning Institute, the clinic on Greenbelt Road that had allegedly been targeted. "These kinds of things are not new," said the clinic doctor, a solo practitioner who is an obstetrician and gynecologist. "This has been going on on a routine and customary basis, and we are used to it. ... We are nervous all the time."
Two weeks ago, the doctor said he was followed by a protester with a video camera who repeatedly yelled, "Look here." The physician asked that his name be withheld, expressing concern for his safety.
Anti-abortion demonstrators often protest at the clinic on weekends. Prince George's police have been called to the clinic on several occasions, but nothing "out of the ordinary" had happened, a police spokeswoman said.
Last year, Weiler's father filed a letter in Prince George's County Circuit Court, offering to take in a friend of his son's who had violated his parole after pleading guilty to defacing churches with spray-painted slurs, the Associated Press reported.
In the letter, the elder Weiler wrote that his family was active in the Catholic community at nearby Andrews Air Force Base and that he was an officer in a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a men's Catholic social organization that is strongly anti-abortion.
The letter also said that at that time, Robert Weiler Jr. was working as a manager-in-training at a Pizza Hut in Laurel and was living with his parents.
"My son is still living at home with us while he repays a debt he incurred as a result of some very poor decisions he's made in the past," the letter said.
The younger Weiler was convicted in Utah in 2003 for obstructing police, according to charging documents. He has not been tied to any anti-abortion groups, authorities said.
Most anti-abortion groups decry violence, Doug Stiegler, the executive director of Association of Maryland Families, said yesterday. "Our stand on this has been you can't be pro-life and go around killing people," he said.
Though clinic protests, vandalism and harassment of clinic employees have increased in the past several years, there have not been serious attacks recently on Maryland clinics or doctors who provide abortions, said Ann Glazier, director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America's security group.
Overall, such attacks are down nationwide, in part because anti-abortion activists have had some hope of success in the political arena, Glazier said.