(Post updated at end)
An unknown suspect left what were reportedly Molotov cocktails at the door of Democratic state senator Wendy Davis’s Fort Worth office Tuesday afternoon, starting a small fire. It was extinguished without any injuries or major damage, but Steve Stoler of WFAA reported that Davis “believes it was meant to cause serious harm in her office.”
As Emily Ramshaw and Thahn Tan of the Texas Tribune wrote:
Anthony Spangler, a spokesman for state Sen. Wendy Davis, said that at 4 p.m. two women were working in Davis’ Fort Worth office when they heard a loud thud. The fire alarm quickly went off.
They opened a door to find a pile of Molotov cocktails on fire. A staffer grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the waist-high flames.
Captain Tom Crow of the Fort Worth Fire Department told Mitch Mitchell of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he could not confirm Molotov cocktails were involved and that investigators “have not made a determination as to the cause and nature of the fire.”
Mitchell also reported that “a maintenance worker chased a suspect from the building at 2123 W. Seventh St. but was unable to catch him.”
Davis spokesman Spangler also told the Trib that “it is impossible to speculate” on whether the attack was politically motivated.
But that caution did not apply to bloggers, journalists and activists, who were quick to note that Davis is pro-choice, and recently appeared at a Planned Parenthood event:
— Bud Kennedy (@budkennedy) March 21, 2012
bit.ly/GCeXlg Well, anti-choice bloggers have been suggesting expanding beyond doctors to activists and politicians.
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) March 21, 2012
Conversely, the first comment on conservative website the Daily Caller‘s story about the incident, by “TheDirtMover,” was this:
I see a Progressive pulling this stunt so the blame could be put on a Conservative or even a Tea Party org. The Left is so desperate, they would pull garbage like this.”
Which is exactly the reaction Houston blogger Andrea Greer anticpated: “Anti-woman, anti-choice activists will swear up, down, and sideways that pro-abortion feminist radicals staged this to make them look bad and gain publicity,” she wrote. “The police are right not to speculate, and I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I’ve been active in reproductive rights long enough to know which side in this battle is most likely to resort to violence.”
Watch WFAA’s coverage below, including an interview with Davis. “It’s unfortunate when things like this happen in the public arena, and it reminds us of how important it is for us to remain very civil in our discourse,” she said:
Update: As Marty Sabota and Mitch Mitchell of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, police have arrested a 40 year-old homeless man, Cedric Steele, for arson. Steele apparently suffers from mental illness, and had visited Davis’s office several times before his alleged attack.
Steele’s brother Curtis told the Star-Telegram‘s Deanna Boyd that Cedric is a former teacher who “just mentally snapped.”
Steele said that while his brother has previously expressed anger at The Potter’s House church in Dallas and at the Dallas Mavericks for reportedly dismissing ideas that he’d shared with them, Steele had never talked of any anger he might have held against Davis or any politician.
“I doubt if he’s even watched TV to understand what her political views are or read about them,” Curtis Steele said.