Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gunman's Motive In Planned Parenthood Shootings Still Unclear

Shooter Robert Lewis Dear

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Gunman's motive in Planned Parenthood shootings unclear

COLORADO SPRINGS — Police were trying to determine Saturday why a middle-aged gunman in hunting gear allegedly went on a wild shooting spree inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing three people, including a police officer.
The suspect, identified as Robert Lewis Dear, 57, of North Carolina, surrendered to officers after a five-hour ordeal Friday in which he fired randomly at people in the clinic and roamed the halls shooting through walls with an assault-style rifle.
"We don't have any information on this individual's mentality, or his ideas or ideology," said Lt. Catherine Buckley, spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The dead officer was identified as Garrett Swasey, 44, a six-year veteran with theUniversity of Colorado - Colorado Springs police force. He was one of many officers from the surrounding area who helped Colorado Springs police in the incident.
"The officer who gave his life today alongside the other officers put the lives of civilians in peril above his own," the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police said via Twitter. "He died to save others."
In a statement on Saturday, President Obama said the suspect's "so-called motive" was unknown, but what is known is that people, including a police officer, died and "more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them."
"This is not normal," Obama said. "We can’t let it become normal.  If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.  Period.  Enough is enough."
"May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing," the president said.
The names of the two civilians killed had not yet been disclosed Saturday morning, but they were not believed to include any Planned Parenthood employees. At least nine people were injured as the suspect shot randomly from the moment he appeared in front of the building in northwest Colorado Springs.
Police said on Saturday that items Dear brought to the scene had been secured and were no longer a threat. Police initially thought that some of the items, like air tank, might be an explosive device.
Ozy Licano was in the two-story building’s parking lot when he saw someone crawling toward the clinic’s door around noon Friday. He tried to escape in his car when the gunman looked at him.
“He came out, and we looked each other in the eye, and he started aiming, and then he started shooting,” Licano said. “I saw two holes go right through my windshield as I was trying to quickly back up and he just kept shooting and I started bleeding.”
Licano sped off and took refuge at a nearby grocery store, according to the Associated Press.
“He was aiming for my head,” he said of the gunman. “It’s just weird to stare in the face of someone like that. And he didn’t win.”
The gunman surrendered as officers were maneuvering a sniper in place to shoot him. Officers shouted at Dear who then agreed to surrender.
During the lengthy standoff, police were able to reach numerous people trapped in the building, including some only yards away from the gunman, blocked only by office walls. Some had taken refuge in a "safe room" established in case of emergencies.
The Planned Parenthood clinic, which provides abortions and other women's reproductive health services, has been the site of numerous protests by anti-abortion advocates over the years, but it was not known whether Friday's shooting were ideologically motivated.
"We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don't yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack," Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said in a statement. "We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country."
One anti-abortion group of about 70 people holds prayer vigils on Thursdays and Fridays, but had left this week by 10 a.m., about an hour and a half before the shooting spree began.
Joseph Martone Jr., a frequent protester at the clinic, told The Gazette that he was appalled by the shooting incident. Martone, who was out of state Friday, is an adamant protester at the center and has been arrested, jailed and paid fines for his trespassing, but said he prefers prayer over violence.
"It's a really sad thing, no matter what the reason," he told the newspaper. "No matter how much I despise Planned Parenthood, no one deserves to go through this, and I pray for everybody involved."
It was the second shooting incident in a month in the city of around 430,000 people. On Oct. 31, a gunman shot and killed three people near downtown Colorado Springs before he died in a shootout with police.

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