Incident Summary:

2/15/1979: Peter Burkin, an unemployed drifter entered into the waiting room of the Bill Baird Clinic in Hempstead, New York, United States and ignited a fire using a bottle of gasoline and two foot torch. The person was injured in the incident and the abortion clinic was burnt down, resulting in over $100,000 in damages.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:

New York


Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Facility/Infrastructure Attack
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Abortion Related
Name of Entity Bill Baird Clinic
Specific Description Bill Baird Clinic, Hempstead New York
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Minor (likely < $1 million)
Value of Property Damage $100,000.00
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Incendiary Gasoline or Alcohol
Weapon Details
Two foot torch and a bottle of gasoline
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information At the time of the incident, there were fifty people in the abortion facility. Upon arriving to the abortion clinic, Peter Burkin yelled, "nobody move; this place is going up. In the name of God I'm going to cleanse Bill Baird's soul by fire!" Burkin was tried and acquitted by reason of insanity.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Anti-Abortion extremists No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 1 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 1
Number of U.S. Injured 1
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
Shawn G. Kennedy, "Head of Burned Abortion Clinic Trades Charges With Opponent," New York Times, February 17, 1979.
Donald G, McNeil Jr., "Youth Acquitted as Insane In L.I. Abortion Clinic Fire," New York Times, October 31, 1979.
Lindsey Grunson, "Abortion-Rights' Scorned Prophet; Hated by Both Sides, Bill Baird Raises Hackles, Not Funds," New York Times, April 14, 1993.