Colorado Springs police have identified the suspect of the deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood on Friday that killed three people, including 44-year-old Garrett Swasey, a University of Colorado police officer, and injured nine. The mugshot of 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear was released by Colorado Springs police on Twitter Saturday morning.
According to Planned Parenthood, all 15 of their staff members survived the ordeal.
The New York Times gives a chilling report on the terror of the standoff (and this is just a small tidbit of the many accounts of those present at or near the clinic at the time):
Those who were caught near the carnage on Friday described an excruciating, hourslong wait for either the police to restore safety — or the gunman to pierce their hideouts. People inside the clinic holed up in an ultrasound room and other hideaways.
Mr. Dear stalked a man who was crawling through the parking lot, apparently trying to hide, a witness told news outlets. He was focused on the medical clinic but indiscriminate with his targets, firing his long gun into the entryway before turning around and shooting through the windshield of the witness, a man who tried to flee after dropping off friends there.
That man was witness Ozy Licano, who told USA Today that he tried to escape to his car when Dear saw 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."
Like clockwork, President Obama released yet another "enough is enough" statement, re: yet another mass shooting. (While we're at it, here's a handy website: the "Mass Shooting Tracker", which tracks known mass shootings. It hasn't been updated to reflect Friday's shooting, but as of Nov. 20, there have been 337 mass shootings. Whoever runs the website must have taken a couple days off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.) Anyway, in this latest statement, President Obama said,
This is not normal. 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.
President Obama continued, "We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado." Most news outlets are also reporting that the motivations are "unknown," but, as Reuters reports, the Colorado Springs clinic has been the scene of repeated anti-abortion protests; in recent years, they had to move to a more secure location in another part of town.
But it's not like harassment of clinics is by any means unusual, however. According to the National Abortion Federation, clinics that provide abortion have reported nearly 7,000 incidents of trespassing, vandalism, arson, death threats, and other forms of violence since 2009—the year in which doctor George Tiller, an abortion provider, was shot to death by a pro-life
terrorist activist in Wichita, Kansas.
As for Dear himself, BuzzFeed writes that he has been investigated as many as nine times in his former residences of North and South Carolina, "including two misdemeanors for cruelty to animals (for which he was found not guilty during a bench trial) and for being a peeping tom (which was dismissed at a preliminary hearing)." But there's no indication that Dear is affiliated with the militant pro-life "scene" in Colorado Springs. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Joseph Martone Jr., a pro-lifer who regularly attends weekly prayer services outside the Planned Parenthood, said that Dear's name wasn't recognized among his anti-abortion crusading crew. "Nobody seems to know him," Martone told the Gazette.
Here's another crazy-upsetting fact: This is the second shooting incident Colorado Springs has seen in a month; on Oct. 31, a gunman shot and killed three people near the city's downtown before he was killed in a shootout with police.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood tweeted that the Colorado Springs branch would remain open today:
The committed professionals at @PPRockyMountain are providing care to patients today - in awe of their courage. THESE DOORS STAY OPEN.— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) November 28, 2015