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(LifeSiteNews) — Security video footage from the Knoxville Planned Parenthood, published exclusively by LifeSiteNews, raises serious doubts about the FBI’s posthumous accusation of arson against pro-lifer Mark Reno.

Two years ago, early on the morning of December 31, 2021, an arsonist set a fire which completely destroyed the Planned Parenthood center at 710 N. Cherry Street in Knoxville, Tennessee. At the time of the fire, the building had been closed for a $2M renovation which would have doubled the size of the centre.  

Three security cameras belonging to the center captured the arsonist, his vehicle, and the fire. The Knoxville Fire Department has provided LifeSiteNews with this security footage in response to a public records request under Tennessee law. 

Planned Parenthood’s security cameras recorded a tall, thin man walking with purpose around the property. A few minutes later, the arsonist parked his red, crew-cab pick-up truck in the alley south of the building. He exited his vehicle and walked out of view to ignite the fire; he then returned to his vehicle and drove away.     

On November 1, 2022, the FBI posthumously named Mark Reno, a white Catholic male, as the arsonist. (Reno died in the custody of U.S. Marshals on August 15, 2022, while awaiting trial on charges that he fired shots at a federal building in Knoxville.) Logistically, the FBI accused Reno of being the Planned Parenthood arsonist by means of an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Thomas Calhoon. The affidavit was made to secure a warrant for seizing Reno’s truck and other assets; it claimed that Reno’s vehicle was the same truck captured in these videos. 

Mark Reno’s family has provided this journalist with photographs of Reno that appear to rule him out as the arsonist. This side-by-side comparison between the arsonist and Reno shows that the arsonist was much thinner. Another photo of Reno, taken in November  2021, shows that he was substantially the same size and shape near the time of the arson. 

 

The most distinguishing feature of the arsonist’s vehicle was that the driver-side headlight was not functioning. However, Agent Calhoon never mentioned this fact in his affidavit accusing Reno. Rather, Calhoon twice conveyed that the arsonist drove his truck with the headlights off, contradicting the plain evidence of these videos. In his affidavit, Calhoon stated: 

As Witness-2 returned to Witness-2’s vehicle, Witness-2 observed an unknown individual walking away from the building and returning to the red pick-up truck. Witness-2 then observed the red pick-up truck traveling down the alley at a rapid speed without its head lights on (15). 

It is possible that Witness-2 told investigators that the truck drove without headlights, because she observed the truck from her home on the driver’s side, and it was the driver-side headlight which was out. (This journalist has personally interviewed Witness-2 and found her to be sincere.) However, Agent Calhoon had independent knowledge from Planned Parenthood’s security footage that this statement — that Witness-2 observed the truck traveling down the alley without headlights — was objectively false. Even if she said so, Witness-2 did not observe the arsonist driving without headlights, because this never occurred.   

Later in the same affidavit, Agent Calhoon’s made another statement about the truck’s headlights:  

On December 31, 2021, investigators obtained and reviewed surveillance footage from a business located on the west side of North Cherry Street. One of the cameras captured a red pick-up truck leaving the alley without headlights on at approximately 6:32am, and then traveling north on North Cherry Street in the direction of Interstate 40 (16). 

This claim — that the truck emerged from the alley without headlights on — is almost certainly false. At no time did the arsonist drive without headlights in this footage. When the arsonist started his vehicle after setting the fire, he again turned on his headlights — briefly with high beams. As he drove through the alley, the driver-side headlight was out, but the passenger-side headlight was on for the whole time the truck was in view of the alley camera. And the passenger-side headlight was still on as the truck came into view of the next Planned Parenthood security camera, just after the arsonist turned right onto North Cherry Street.  

READ: FBI intends to withhold records on Knoxville’s Planned Parenthood fire until 2026

We have requested the security video “from a business located on the west side of North Cherry Street” by means of a comprehensive FOIA request for all records related to this fire. However, acting FBI Deputy Assistant Director, James Klipfer, has told U.S. Representative Tim Burchett that it plans to withhold responsive records until April 2026.

According to Agent Calhoon, Reno was positively identified by a family member from this footage: 

Screenshot images of the arsonist and the red pick-up truck, taken from surveillance video of the arson at the Center, were presented to a member of Reno’s family (“Witness-3”). Witness-3 identified the individual in the screenshot as Reno and the red pick-up truck as Reno’s red 2006 GMC Sierra (25).

Although this surveillance video might rule out suspects, positive identification is impossible, because the arsonist only appears in silhouette. Further, Reno’s daughter doesn’t believe that a family member ever made this identification. “We’re a very small, close-knit family. None of us has ever seen these videos,” Reno’s daughter told LifeSiteNews. She further explained that they have no extended family in the area, because the whole family moved from New Mexico to Tennessee beginning in 2020.  

Reno’s truck was a plausible match to the arsonist’s truck, but 200X GMC Sierra pick-up trucks are common in East Tennessee. This journalist recently photographed another plausible match at a business in west Knoxville. A rigorous comparison between Reno’s truck and the truck in this security footage is no longer possible, because the FBI seized Reno’s truck by civil asset forfeiture on October 28, 2022 — just days before publicizing its accusation against him. The warrant for seizure was executed by Agent Calhoon himself.  (Seizure of Reno’s truck and other assets was the stated purpose of Agent Calhoon’s affidavit.)

In October 2023, the Knoxville Fire Department (KFD) released its Origin and Cause Report on the blaze, along with hundreds of photographs of the burned building. In their report, KFD Investigators concluded that the arsonist physically entered the building to start the fire:  

All fire patterns, evidence and witness statement at the scene support the area of origin as being along the rear wall of the new addition in the area of the exam rooms. Evidence discovered at the scene supports the probable cause of this fire as being intentionally set by a suspect using an ignitable liquid brought to the scene and placed in the rear of the new addition. 

For someone without a key, the only access to the interior of the building was through these narrow unsecured windows of the new addition (lighter brick), which were merely covered in plastic. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found that:  

The doors and windows in the original structure were in place and locked. The new addition did not have doors and windows installed yet. Temporary doors were built out of plywood and locked with chains and padlocks. The windows were covered with plastic sheeting stapled to the openings… Interviews of fire personal were conducted and it was determined that all doors were in place and locked when the fire department arrived. They did force entry into several door[s] during fire suppression operations. The windows in the new addition were not in place and covered in plastic that had been stapled up during the construction. These windows and plastic all suffered fire and heat damage and the security of these windows cannot be determined.

The arsonist in Planned Parenthood’s security footage may have been thin enough to enter the building through the windows of the new addition. It is unlikely that Reno, who was 62 at the time and very overweight, could have entered through the same windows. According to court records, he was also receiving disability. Reno’s family explained that this was for chronic injury to his back and shoulder. 

Further, Reno’s family confirmed that he was highly claustrophobic. “There’s no way he would have gone through that tight space, not knowing what was on the other side or whether he could get out,” said Reno’s daughter. Prior to his arrest and death, Reno described himself as claustrophobic, according to an affidavit from another FBI Special Agent, Jessi Mann (p. 3 footnote). 

READ: Knoxville Planned Parenthood was intentionally set ablaze from inside, fire dept. concludes

The arson occurred six months before the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which effectively rendered abortion illegal in Tennessee. The building was insured by AXA XL Insurance.

Most abortion centers in Tennessee have closed their doors, but Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi (PPTNM) is nearing completion of its new building at the same location. In addition to funds from insurance claims, PPTNM may be using federal Title X funds to rebuild in Knoxville. The Biden Administration has routed Title X funding around the State of Tennessee and made grants directly to other regional Planned Parenthood organizations; these, in turn, plan to make sub-grants to PPTNM. Tennessee has responded by suing the Biden administration over this action.

Anyone with information about this arson should contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at (865) 549-7800. The Knoxville Fire Department has offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the prosecution of anyone involved in criminal activity related to this fire. 

Original, unedited security videos are available here:

1-Alley View (CH16) 0600-0615

2-Alley View (CH16) 0615-0630

3-Cherry Street View (CH17) 0600-0615

4-Cherry Street View (CH17) 0615-0630

5-Washington Street View (CH18) 0600-0615

6-Washington Street View (CH18) 0615-0630

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