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Fire at anti-abortion center in Amherst investigated as arson

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1230 Eggert Road CompassCare Fire

CompassCare opened a crisis pregnancy center in this former medical office at 1230 Eggert Road, Amherst, shown here prior to a fire reported early Tuesday morning that caused $150,000 damage. Police are investigating the fire as arson.

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Amherst police are investigating a fire at a center run by an anti-abortion group as arson.

CompassCare, the organization that operates the crisis pregnancy center in Eggertsville, said the center was firebombed early today and graffiti left on the building ties the incident to the "abortion terrorist group" Jane's Revenge.

"Jane was here," was written on the side of the building, according to a web post by CompassCare.

Jane's Revenge claimed to be behind a fire set last month at an anti-abortion office in Madison, Wisc.

Photos posted online by CompassCare show broken windows and extensive fire damage within the center at 1230 Eggert Road, off Main Street.

Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said it's his understanding an incendiary device of some kind was used to set the fire.

Town police said the fire was reported at 2:30 a.m. Eggertsville Hose Company was assisted by several other volunteer companies in tackling the blaze.

Amherst police, town fire investigators and an Erie County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit also went to the scene.

Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries. Fire officials say the fire caused $150,000 in damage to the structure and its contents.

Amherst police ask anyone with information about the incident to call 716-689-1322.

Rochester-based CompassCare announced in late 2019 that it was expanding into the Buffalo area and merging with three previously independent crisis pregnancy centers here.

The Christian organization said at the time that it had acquired a former medical office in Eggertsville and planned to open a center there by the end of that year.

CompassCare is an anti-abortion organization that provides basic medical care and counseling to pregnant women to encourage them to seek other options beside abortion. 

CompassCare said it had retained security consultants and was in the process of installing armored glass at the office.

The organization said this came as Jane's Revenge had vowed to undertake a "Night of Rage" in response to the anticipated decision from the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in this country.

CompassCare in a blog post said organizations that oppose abortion have been targets of violence, online and off, for months. The organization complained that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, instead, earmarked $10 million to boost security at clinics that provide abortions.

Referring to today's fire and related incidents, CompassCare CEO Jim Harden in a statement compared them to "the pro-abortion 'Kristallnacht.'"

That's a reference to "the Night of Broken Glass," a series of pogroms carried out by Nazi paramilitary forces and German civilians that led to widespread vandalism and destruction of Jewish businesses, synagogues and homes, along with the mass arrests of 30,000 Jewish men, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

"CompassCare will rebuild because women deserve better. CompassCare will not stop serving because pre-born boys and girls deserve protection," Harden said in the statement.

Kulpa, the Amherst supervisor, said there was no justification for setting the fire and he wants to see whoever committed this politically motivated crime prosecuted. 

Even though it appears no one was inside the building at the time, the fire forced emergency responders to risk their own safety, Kulpa said. He noted two volunteer firefighters were treated for minor injuries, though they've since been released from the hospital.

"In Amherst, there won't be a tolerance for criminal activity and violence, from either a hard left or hard right. This has got no place here, and won't have a home here," Kulpa said.

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News Staff Reporter

I report on development, government, crime and schools in the northern Erie County suburbs. I grew up in the Town of Tonawanda and worked at the Post-Standard in Syracuse before joining The News in 2001. Email: swatson@buffnews.com

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