Man accused of firing BB guns at Planned Parenthood in Pasadena faces federal charge

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A sign is displayed at Planned Parenthood of Utah Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Salt Lake City. About 39,000 people received treatment from Planned Parenthood of Utah in 2018 under a federal family planning program called Title X. The organization this week announced it is pulling out of the program rather than abide by a new Trump administration rule prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Planned Parenthood of Utah is shown in 2019. A man accused of a string of BB gun shootings at the healthcare provider's Pasadena clinic faces prison after he allegedly carried a loaded handgun during at least one of the attacks. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

An Altadena man accused of a string of BB gun shootings aimed at a Planned Parenthood facility in Pasadena is facing up to 10 years in federal prison following an investigation by police and the FBI.

Richard Royden Chamberlin, 53, was charged with one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm after he allegedly carried a loaded handgun during one of the attacks, according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California.

According to an FBI agent's affidavit included with the criminal complaint, Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley reported multiple times that a person shot at the healthcare provider's building with what appeared to be a BB gun from a moving car.

The facility reported 12 such shootings from June 27, 2020, to May 7, 2021, including a series of six that happened in rapid succession on April 9, 10, 11, 15, 25 and May 2, 2021, the agent wrote.

Surveillance videos captured several of the attacks and showed a blue-gray Chevrolet Malibu with a license plate number that was registered to Chamberlin, according to the affidavit. Popping sounds consistent with BB gun shots can be heard in the videos, and multiple pellets were found lodged near the facility's front door.

During a shooting on March 30, a patient's support companion was almost hit while she waited on the facility's front porch, according to the affidavit.

"In addition to incurring the costs of repairs and added security, Planned Parenthood has had to cancel patient appointments and the staff has been emotionally traumatized not knowing when the next shooting will occur," the agent wrote.

The final attack occurred May 7, according to the affidavit. A security guard called police and gave them the Malibu's description and license plate number.

Minutes later, Pasadena motorcycle officers spotted the car on the 210 Freeway and pulled Chamberlin over after they were joined by an officer in a patrol unit, the agent wrote.

Officers who searched the car found BB guns and a backpack in the front passenger seat that contained a .22-caliber handgun loaded with 10 rounds, according to the affidavit.

During an interview with investigators, Chamberlin initially denied carrying out the BB gun shootings and said he was in the area dropping off his girlfriend's child at a class before heading to a friend's house to help install a pool, the agent wrote.

When an officer asked why a BB gun was under the driver's seat, Chamberlin said he taught firearms safety and used BB guns as "teaching tools," claiming he "lost track of it" because he had so many of the guns, according to the affidavit. He also claimed to be part of a YouTube channel dedicated to testing BB guns.

Chamberlin told the officer that all the BB guns were his but that no "real" guns were in the car, the agent wrote.

After further questioning, he "claimed to be an investigative journalist with Project Veritas and admitted trying to create undercover videos in the past showing that Planned Parenthood sold baby parts," according to the affidavit.

"Chamberlin accused Planned Parenthood of 'taking whole babies and selling baby body parts,' but denied knowing where the Pasadena Planned Parenthood was located and denied shooting at it with a BB gun," the agent wrote. "After being told that he was seen on video shooting a BB gun at the building, [he] asked to see the video and added, after a brief silence, 'at least the baby murderers have somebody on their side.'"

When confronted by investigators about the gun and bullets in his backpack, he whispered an expletive, said the gun was "for protection" and admitted he had a prior felony conviction, the agent wrote.

A later review of court records showed Chamberlin was convicted of transporting a narcotic drug for sale in Arizona in 2012, prohibiting him from possessing guns, according to the affidavit.

A law enforcement database check showed he owned nine firearms before his conviction, including the handgun found in his car after the May 7 attack, the agent wrote.

Chamberlin bought that gun, a Phoenix Arms semiautomatic pistol, in Utah in 2002 but failed to register it within 60 days of moving to California as required by law, the records showed.

If convicted, he would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.

An investigation into the attacks is ongoing.

Investigators believe he may have had an accomplice for some of the attacks.

According to the affidavit, Planned Parenthood surveillance videos from April 11 and April 25 show a woman sitting in the front passenger seat of Chamberlin's car.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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