MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Wisconsin man who allegedly planned to shoot a doctor at a Madison abortion clinic was charged on Friday under a federal law that allows freedom of access to the clinics, prosecutors said.
Ralph Lang, 63, of Marshfield, was staying at a Motel 6 when his .38-caliber handgun discharged into an unoccupied room across the hall, according to the federal criminal complaint. Madison police were called after Lang told a motel clerk that the gun went off, and he was worried that the bullet might have hit someone.
Lang, who was arrested for reckless endangerment, told police that he had a gun “to lay out abortionists because they are killing babies,” the complaint said
Lang told police that he planned to go to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic the following morning to find the doctor who was doing the abortions and shoot him in the head, the complaint said.
He was charged with attempting to injure and intimidate in violation of the federal access statute, according to U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil.
A nurse at Planned Parenthood in Madison said she is familiar with Lang, and that she saw him outside the facility last week, according to the complaint. Lang was arrested in 2007 outside Planned Parenthood, telling an officer at the time that the “Bible states that anyone involved in abortion should be executed.”
In Lang’s motel room, officers found a U.S. map with dots in each state and handwritten words above the northern U.S. border that said “some abortion centers,” the complaint said. Also written on the map were the words “Blessed Virgin Mary says Hell awaits any woman having an abortion. Nurse or doctor who helps will one (sic).”
Police reported seeing anti-abortion literature in Lang’s motel room.
After his court appearance Friday, Lang was being held in the Dane County jail. The maximum penalty under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances statute is one year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. He was assigned a federal public defender, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune