Official says Colorado Planned Parenthood gunman ID’d as Robert Lewis Dear

28 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

3 dead in shootout inside family planning building in Colorado.

A suspect is in police custody following an hours-long shooting standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, where at least one police officer and two civilians were killed Friday. “The perpetrator is in custody,” Mayor John Suthers declared just after 5 p.m. Mountain time — more than five hours after an active shooter was first reported at the health-care clinic, spawning confusion that lasted through the afternoon over whether the gunman was at large or holed up at the medical facility with staff and patients.

An unknown number of people were evacuated during the standoff — some wrapped in blankets in the blowing snow — to a nearby Veterans Administration clinic. Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP COLORADO SPRINGS, United States—A gunman opened fire at a prominent family planning center in Colorado, killing three people and wounding several in a standoff that dragged on for five hours before he surrendered Friday. A usually busy area of snow-covered Colorado Springs was placed on lockdown into the early evening, just a day after millions of Americans celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, in the latest incident to shed a damning light on the United States’ gun culture.

The official, who had direct knowledge of the case, spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the media about the ongoing investigation. Authorities said they don’t know the motive of the gunman or whether the shooter had any connection to Planned Parenthood, a national women’s health care providers that offers abortions at some clinics. Jennifer Motolinia hid behind a table inside the clinic and called her brother, Joan, who said he heard multiple gunshots in the background. “People were shooting for sure.

Abortion is one of the services Planned Parenthood provides for women, and the association has become a lightning rod for criticism by social conservatives. Those critics, many of whom seek to outlaw abortion in the United States, have accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal organs and body parts for profit, and encouraging women to have abortions in order to expand such operations. Local police were joined at the scene by state investigators and federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI. With the immediate threat over, authorities turned their attention to inspecting unspecified items the gunman left outside the building and carried inside in bags.

Earlier, there had been fears that the unidentified gunman might have explosives with him, and police were carefully combing the scene after the siege, which came to an end when he surrendered. Health centers associated with Planned Parenthood have been the target of threats and violence because of the organization’s role in providing abortions and lobbying for reproductive rights. Abortion rights groups say threats against abortion providers rose sharply this summer in the wake of an undercover “sting” mounted by an antiabortion group that filmed one of its videos at a clinic in Denver. Buckley said the shooter was armed with some kind of “long weapon” with a shoulder stock such as a rifle, and some witnesses reported hearing automatic fire. The dead policeman was named as Garrett Swasey, 44, a University of Colorado Colorado Springs officer who was on duty at the campus and had raced to the scene of the shooting.

Ambulances and police vehicles lined up at a nearby intersection and police told people via Twitter to stay away from the shooting scene because it was not secure. Quan Hoang, the owner of a nearby nail salon, told CNN that when he heard the gunfire break out, he feared a robbery was underway at a bank in the shopping area, which would have been bustling with people looking to pick up a bargain in the Black Friday sales. “And we see cops, SWAT, the bomb squad, a whole bunch of people just trying to take cover around the Planned Parenthood area,” he said by telephone. “An officer came back in and said, ‘Is everyone safe?’ We asked him questions and he said they’ve barricaded him inside the Planned Parenthood and he was shooting out from the windows.” Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said that her initial information was that none of her staff or patients had been killed or injured.

Shelley Satulla said she saw five or six people put on stretchers and placed in ambulances lined up next to King Soopers shopping center near the clinic. Many workers and shoppers in the area were told to hunker down in place, whether it be in the kitchen of their restaurant or the back seat of their car.

She heard no gunshots. “We just thought it was some random whatever happening, and then we turned on the news and started seeing what was going on,’’ she said.

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