Police asking for tips on arson fire during attempted break-in at Oregon Right to Life building in Keizer
Arson investigators are seeking information about a small fire that ignited Sunday night during a suspected break-in attempt at the Oregon Right to Life office in Keizer.
An engine and a battalion chief responded to a report of a small blaze around 10:40 p.m. at the Right to Life building at 4335 River Rd N, according to Keizer Fire District Deputy Fire Marshal Anne-Marie Storms.
At least one person tried to break a building window, but was unsuccessful, according to Lt. Trevor Wenning, a spokesperson for the Keizer Police Department. The person then lit two Molotov cocktails and threw them toward the building, which led to the small fire.
The building was empty at the time of the fire — there were no injuries reported, Storms said. Crews stayed on scene for about 45 minutes. The outside of the building was damaged, but the building is still usable, Storms said.
The fire comes a week after a leaked draft opinion of an abortion case revealed the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
In Salem, more than 100 people gathered at Riverfront Park last week to protest the possible overturning of federal abortion protections. If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, 22 states have laws or constitutional amendments that would take effect immediately or as soon as possible to ban abortion, according to Guttmacher Institute.
In a Monday statement about the fire in Keizer, Oregon Right to Life Executive Director Lois Anderson said: "Understandably, our team is shaken up by this attack. We are committed to taking proper precautions to protect the safety of our staff as we move forward. We are thankful for the quick action of our first responders committed to maintaining a safe environment to operate in this community.”
Oregon Right to Life officials said the organization does not condone the use of force, intimidation and violence by any person pursuing pro-life activities and that Right to Life does not knowingly do business with any organization that endorses violence toward pro-abortion.
The nonprofit organization, founded in 1970, states it advocates for the "most vulnerable human beings whose right to life is denied or abridged under current law."
"Our commitment to the well-being of all human life requires that we respect the inherent value and dignity of all people," the statement said. "Just as we condemn abortion and euthanasia, we oppose private acts that take human life, inflict bodily harm or destroy another’s property."
Keizer Police detectives, the Keizer Fire District and an arson investigator from the Salem Police Department responded to the fire.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to share via the tip line at email@example.com or call 503-856-3529.
USA Today reporters John Fritze and Asha C. Gilbert contributed to this story.
Virginia Barreda is the breaking news and public safety reporter for the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at 503-399-6657 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.