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Amherst police: Fire at CompassCare being investigated as arson

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Posted at 10:53 AM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 17:21:26-04

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Amherst police are investigating a fire at CompassCare, a pregnancy services clinic located at 1230 Eggert Road, as an act of arson.

It was just after 3 a.m. Tuesday when police and fire were called here CompassCare Pregnancy Services on Eggert Road.

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CompassCare in Amherst damaged by fire.

According to police, officers and the Eggertsville Hose Company responded to the location for a fire alarm and the structure was on fire upon arrival. Eggertsville was assisted by Getzville, N. Bailey, and Snyder Fire Departments. Town of Amherst Fire Investigators and Erie County Sheriff's Office Detective Scott Kuhlmey and his K9 also responded.

CEO Jim Harden says he believes it was a targeted crime by a group with opposing viewpoints.

“This is the face of abortion ladies and gentlemen. This is the face of abortion,” Harden declared

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Jim Harden, CEO, CompassCare.

According to CompassCare, the windows in the reception room and nurses' office were broken and fires were lit. There was also graffiti on the building.

Harden held a news conference outside the clinic Tuesday afternoon saying the fire was no accident. He says fires were set inside causing extensive damage.

“The smoke damage was extensive throughout, as well as a lot of fire damage. We're pretty sure all the equipment has been destroyed. We're not sure. We haven't been able to get in and turn it on — all of our power is out,” remarked Harden.

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Clinic windows damaged.

Harden says he believes a radical pro-abortion group targeted the offices on Eggert Road.

CompassCare is a pro-life medical service that provides alternatives to abortion

Harden says the graffiti written on the backside of the office — “Jane was here” — is a reference to an extreme abortion group called “Jane’s Revenge.”

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Graffiti written on back of CompassCare office building.

“So Jane's Revenge is this group that's attempting to strike fear into the hearts of pro-life service organizations to keep them from providing care,” Harden explained.

Harden says a similar clinic was targeted in Madison, Wisconsin last month with Jane's revenge claiming responsibility and threatening more sites.

“We reported it to the FBI two weeks ago. They are in the process of investigating. They were here this morning as well,” Harden noted.

I reached out to the local FBI office. a spokesperson tells me they are “denying comment” on the incident at this time.

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Fire damage inside CompassCare.

Amherst Police tell 7 News the fire appears suspicious in nature, but they can't confirm if the extremist group is responsible.

“Do you have any surveillance out here?” Buckley asked. “We do have surveillance. We do have cameras and the investigation is ongoing. We have all that data and we're going to be looking it over to see exactly if we can find out who exactly did this work,” replied Harden.

Police said two firefighters were treated for minor injuries and the fire is being investigated as arson at this time.

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Fire crews at the scene early Tuesday morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police at (716) 689-1322.

Town of Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa released the following statement:

“This morning, two Town of Amherst volunteer firefighters were admitted to the hospital after they were overcome while battling a suspected arson fire at 1230 Eggert Road near Main. With reports that this fire was set intentionally, I am disgusted that lives were put at risk. Our thoughts are with the firefighters as they recover. A violent response is never the answer. There is no place in Amherst for such attacks. Amherst Police are working with our partners to continue its investigation to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”