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Man accused of damaging Chicago abortion clinics charged in federal court

A man who has already admitted damaging two Chicago clinics that provide abortion services — and who has been suspected of additional attacks — now faces federal prosecution, court records show.

Michael Barron, 40, is charged with one misdemeanor count alleging he damaged a Planned Parenthood Health Center in Edgewater on June 5, 2021.

Though the charging document contains no additional detail, a federal affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times alleges Barron was suspected of firing steel ball bearings from a slingshot through windows of three such clinics in Chicago on several occasions, including June 5, 2021.

The affidavit, filed in September 2021, said Barron had been tied to 19 attacks on the three clinics between January 2021 and June 2021. Fourteen of those attacks involved ball bearings. The other five involved glue placed in the locks of a clinic’s doors.

Barron’s defense attorney did not respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday. Cristina Villarreal, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the organization could not comment on pending litigation.

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“Our patients’ safety, well-being, and comfort are our first priority, and we take all instances of harassment and vandalism seriously,” Villarreal said in a statement.

Chicago police watched as Barron attacked one clinic on June 9, 2021, according to the affidavit. It said officers saw him enter the parking lot armed with a black and yellow slingshot and fire one ball bearing. It penetrated one door of the clinic and shattered a second, the document said.

Officers immediately arrested Barron, who allegedly said he knew he was “going to get caught sooner or later.”

On July 29, 2021, Barron pleaded guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to two counts of felony criminal damage to property for the June 9, 2021, attack, as well as another on May 26, 2021. Barron was sentenced to two years of probation , records show.

However, authorities continued to investigate the remaining 17 attacks, the affidavit said. They compared Barron’s booking photo to surveillance videos that captured six of the attacks, and they analyzed location data tied to his cellphone number.

They also submitted Barron’s Amazon records, which showed that he had placed several orders for ball bearings, slingshots and Gorilla glue between January 2021 and June 2021.

Finally, the feds sought permission from a judge to search a North Side condo belonging to Barron’s parents, who told authorities he lived there. Court records also list an address for Barron in Morton Grove.

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