2015 Colorado Springs shooting
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This article is about the Colorado Springs shootings on November 27. For the October 31 shooting, see List of shootings in Colorado.
|2015 Colorado Springs shooting|
|Location||Colorado Springs, Colorado|
|Date||November 27, 2015
c. 11:38 a.m. – 4:52 p.m. (MST)
|Target||Planned Parenthood clinic|
|Robert Lewis Dear|
ShootingLaw enforcement responded to a report of an active shooter at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic at approximately 11:38 a.m. MST. According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, the gunman first opened fire outside or near the clinic before moving inside. Staff inside the clinic moved people out of the waiting room, and locked a security door. As responding officers approached the building, the suspect fired at them, hitting several. A five-hour standoff then ensued. Initial reports described the gunman as "wearing hunting gear and armed with a long gun".
At the time of the incident, twenty gunshots were reportedly fired within five minutes. Police swarmed the area, and nearby stores were put on lockdown.
Standoff and arrestDuring the standoff, officers who made it inside the clinic reportedly shouted to communicate with a suspect, attempting to persuade him to surrender. He eventually complied, resulting in his arrest at 4:52 p.m. Following apprehension of the suspect, law enforcement began searching the building, as well as the suspect's car, for possible explosives. The suspected gunman was later identified as Robert Lewis Dear, a 57-year-old man from North Carolina. According to an unnamed senior law enforcement official, Dear gave a "rambling" interview after his arrest in which at one point he said, "No more baby parts", widely seen as a reference to the Planned Parenthood 2015 undercover videos controversy. The official added that Dear "said a lot of things" in that interview, including that he has anti-abortion and anti-government views, but authorities could not clearly identify a specific motivation, as investigators were still processing evidence.
VictimsOfficer Garrett Swasey, 44, was a married father of two young children. Before joining the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs police force, he was a nationally ranked junior figure skater and ice dancer. Ke'Arre M. Stewart, an Iraq War veteran, was married with a child. Jennifer Markovsky was the mother of a son and daughter. Nine other victims, comprising five police officers and four civilians, were also reportedly shot. They were admitted to local area hospitals and listed in good condition.
SuspectRobert Lewis Dear Jr., 57 at the time of his arrest, was born in South Carolina and spent most of his life in the Carolinas before moving to Hartsel, Colorado in 2014, where he lived in a travel trailer. Working as an independent art dealer, he lived in a succession of trailers and cabins before moving to Colorado. Police, citing an "active investigation," said that the warrants related to the case against Dear have been sealed, and that they will not yet provide information about why Dear started the shooting, the weapon used by Dear, Dear's motive, or a timeline of events.
AftermathThe Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called on to assist in the investigation and President Barack Obama was briefed on the incident. As a precautionary response to the shooting, additional law enforcement were assigned to Planned Parenthood clinics in New York City and Denver.
ReactionsVicki Cowart, President of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains decried the incident as a form of domestic terrorism while assuring that Planned Parenthood would continue in "providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust." While the shooting was still active, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger demanded that Cowart apologize if the perpetrator wasn't anti-abortion.
Attorney General of the United States Loretta Lynch called the shooting "...not only a crime against the Colorado Springs community, but a crime against women receiving healthcare services at Planned Parenthood, law enforcement seeking to protect and serve, and other innocent people." President of the United States Barack Obama released a statement on November 28, 2015 that stressed stricter gun control legislation.
Some U.S. politicians and activist groups have described the shooting as domestic terrorism. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said it "certainly appears" the shooting and standoff was an act of domestic terrorism. In statements following the incident, one of the current Republican candidates for president, Mike Huckabee, as well as the Texas pro-choice organization, NARAL Pro-Choice, referred to the shooting as "domestic terrorism". Colorado governor John Hickenlooper said the shooting, which he described as "a form of terrorism" and other violent incidents. may be the result of the "inflammatory rhetoric we see on all levels", referring to heated debate over abortion in the U.S.
Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation drew particular attention to the undercover Planned Parenthood videos, two of which were shot at a clinic in Denver, 75 miles north of Colorado Springs; these videos resulted in a number of threats against one doctor featured in the videos.