A gun battle erupted inside a Planned Parenthood center here on Friday when a man armed with an assault-style rifle opened fire and began shooting at officers as they rushed to the scene. The authorities reported that three people were killed, a police officer and two civilians, and nine were wounded before the suspect finally surrendered more than five hours after the first shots were fired.
A police official in Colorado Springs, who was not authorized to speak, identified the man in custody as Robert Lewis Dear, 59. No other information about him was available.
The police did not describe the gunman’s motives. For hours on Friday, officers traded gunfire with him inside the clinic before they were able to shout to the man and persuade him to give up, according to Lt. Catherine Buckley, a police spokeswoman.
“The perpetrator is in custody,” Mayor John Suthers said at an evening news conference. “There is a huge crime scene that has to be processed,” he said, “and we have to determine how many victims there are.”
Lieutenant Buckley said the gunman had brought several suspicious items to the clinic, and investigators were trying to determine whether they were explosives.
The shooting came at a time when Planned Parenthood has been criticized because of surreptitious videos made by anti-abortion groups of officials discussing using fetal organs for research. It transformed a shopping area near the clinic into chaos as snow fell and gunshots rang through the parking lot. Black-clad tactical officers stood guard with guns in hand, ambulances lined up and dozens of shoppers and employees were ordered to stay away from windows and lock their businesses’ doors.
If this perp did indeed target Planned Parenthood, then this incident bears eerie similarities to the December 30, 1994 terrorist attack at two Planned Parenthood clinics in Massachusetts. This case may prove yet again that in America, we always have to be on guard for heavily armed, self-radicalized religious extremists who believe they have the right to take lives in the name of their faith and who pose a perpetual threat to homeland security–and I’m not talking about ISIS.
ELEVENTH UPDATE: From NBC News.