Illinois man held in attempted arson of planned abortion clinic said he'd 'finish the job' if freed, feds say

Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Political News

CHICAGO — The Illinois man accused of crashing his car into a future abortion clinic in downstate Danville while attempting to set it on fire told authorities he intended to destroy the building so it could not be used to provide abortions and would attempt to do so again if he had the chance, according to a criminal complaint.

Philip Buyno remains in FBI custody, according to federal authorities.

The prospective abortion clinic has been at the center of a recent high-profile debate over reproductive rights in this east central Illinois community, which passed a controversial ordinance earlier this month to ban the mailing and shipment of abortion pills. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and civil liberties experts have warned city leaders that the measure is illegal in Illinois, which has strong reproductive rights protections.

Buyno, 73, of Prophetstown, who faces attempted arson charges, told police he had loaded his car with old tires, firewood and a can of gasoline, and that he had intended on lighting the vehicle on fire once it was fully inside the building, the complaint alleged.

He also told law enforcement he was a member of a “‘rescue group’ whose purpose was to prevent abortion clinics from being established,” according to the complaint.

During interviews with federal investigators, Buyno said he had been active in the anti-abortion movement in the late 1980s and 1990s and had been arrested many times for activities in opposition to abortion; he had also been arrested in 2019 for trespassing at an abortion clinic in Peoria, the complaint said.


“If I could sneak in with a gas can and a match, I would go in there again,” Buyno told federal investigators, according to the complaint.

He added that if he were released from jail, he would “finish the job,” the complaint said.

Buyno learned earlier this month that the Danville property was going to be used as a reproductive health clinic and “he developed a plan to destroy the building before the clinic opened by burning the building down,” the complaint said.

Danville police responded to an alarm at the property at 600 N. Logan Ave. early Saturday to find Buyno stuck inside a maroon 2013 Volkswagen Passat that had crashed into the front of the building, federal authorities said.


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