Three Dead in Shooting at Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic

  • Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs is scene of rampage
  • Police officer among fatalities; nine people wounded, AP says

A gunman was arrested after an hours-long standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three people dead and nine wounded, the Associated Press cited unidentified law-enforcement officials as saying.

Mayor John Suthers said via Twitter that the suspect had been taken into custody by police about 5 p.m. local time Friday. One police officer, 44-year-old Garrett Swasey, was among the fatalities and five were included in those injured in the rampage, AP reported. The shootings began about 11:30 a.m. local time at the clinic, which provides women’s health care as well as contraception and abortions.

The suspect was identified as Robert Lewis Dear of North Carolina, AP reported, citing a law-enforcement official who asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak about the investigation. A Denver Post photograph showed a white man being led from the scene in handcuffs.

Authorities provided no information about possible motives for the shooting, which forced dozens of people to take shelter in nearby restaurants and other businesses. More than 100 officers were on the scene, surrounding the building in snowy 16-degree weather. Police were moving gingerly to secure the area, investigating items the gunman brought with him.

“Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the brave law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm’s way in Colorado Springs,” Cecile Richards, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are profoundly grateful for their heroism in helping to protect all women, men and young people as they access basic health care in this country.”

Initial Target

Lieutenant Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said she didn’t know whether Planned Parenthood was the shooter’s initial target. 

Clinics run by the national women’s health group have been frequent sites for protests since anti-abortion groups this year circulated videos showing a Planned Parenthood official discussing the sale of fetal tissue for research.

In September, the Republican-controlled U.S. House voted to withdraw its federal funding. The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate. Republican presidential candidates have condemned the group in the aftermath of the videos.

“We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country,” Vicki Cowart, president of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in an e-mailed statement. “We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.”

President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation in the city, which is about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Denver, by his Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco, according to a U.S. official who described the conversation on condition of anonymity.

This is the second mass shooting in Colorado Springs in less than a month. On Oct. 31, a gunman walking through a residential neighborhood near downtown Colorado Springs killed three people. The gunman in that incident was killed by police.

(Updates with identity of police officer in second paragraph, suspect in third.)

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