In Cold Blood

Another apparent case of domestic terrorism yesterday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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.

UPDATE: More from the Boston Globe, New York Times, MSNBC, Think Progress, the Washington Post, NBC News and the Denver Post.

SECOND UPDATE: More from MSNBC and CBS New York.

THIRD UPDATE: More from Think Progress.

FOURTH UPDATE: More from CNN, Newshounds, NARAL Pro-Choice America and KMGH-TV.

FIFTH UPDATE: More from Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC.com.

SIXTH UPDATE: More from Melissa Harris-Perry and Emily Crockett.

SEVENTH UPDATE: More from CBSNews.com, CNN, Alex Witt, Jason Easley and Peter Gelzinis.

EIGHTH UPDATE: Still more from Melissa Harris-Perry.

NINTH UPDATE: From Think Progress, CBS News and NBC News.

TENTH UPDATE: From CBS News, the Washington Post, NBC News and Think Progress.

ELEVENTH UPDATE: From NBC News.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.