Garrett Swasey was identified as the police officer killed in Saturday’s Planned Parenthood shooting after a still unidentified gunman opened fire at the clinic and led to a three-hour standoff.
The 44-year-old Swasey has been a member of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Police Department for the past six years, officials said. Before that he made a name as a champion figure skater, winning the junior national couples ice dancing competition in 1992.
The Denver Post noted that Swasey was once atop his field.
Swasey won the junior national championship in Orlando, Fla., in 1992, with partner Christine Fowler of Baltimore.
Fowler and Swasey, in third after the compulsory phase of the competition, took the title by winning the original and free dance programs, according to a Baltimore Sun article.
Three years later, Swasey and ice dancing partner Hillary Tompkins competed in the 1995 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Providence, R.I.
The Denver-based ice dancing couple placed 13th at the championships and later performed on Musical on Ice shows at the Forum in Presque Isle, Maine.
Garrett Swasey was married to Rachel Swasey, and the couple had two children together, said university spokesman Jared Verner.
The shooting took place Saturday just before noon when a man armed with a rifle entered the Planned Parenthood facility and began opening fire on employees and patients. He then barricaded himself inside, shooting Garrett Swasey and the other initial responders.
— NewsChannel 8 (@NewsChannel8) November 28, 2015
Police identified the gunman as 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear, who may be from South Carolina. Dear eventually eventually gave himself up, but police were still at the scene late Saturday night trying to identify items the gunman had brought to determine if they are dangerous.
Investigators are also trying to assess a device found in the man’s car, described as a propane tank with wires sticking out. Police were not sure if it was a bomb or a hoax device.
Authorities are still trying to determine a motive for the Panned Parenthood shooting, and have not released information about the alleged shooter’s background.
“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” Lt. Catherine Buckley told the Associated Press.
Colorado Springs police officer who was killed was identified as Garrett Swasey, 44 https://t.co/0CtEoh7QpF
— Sara Tonin, RN (@shar76) November 28, 2015
The shooter was pinned inside a building for several hours, with bursts of gunfire from a long gun being heard periodically. Police eventually talked to the man, who surrendered. Video showed a tall white man wearing a T-shirt being led away to a police car.
Garrett Swasey was one of three police officers shot when responding to a call of gunfire just after noon. The gunman shot another officer close to two hours later, Buckley told the Associated Press.
The shooting led to some heartbreaking moments. Joan Motolinia said she got a phone call from her sister, Jennifer, who was hiding behind a table inside the clinic.
“She was telling me to take care of her babies because she could get killed,” Joan said of her sister.
The fallen: Garrett Swasey Jennifer Markovsky Ke'Arre Stewart pic.twitter.com/kVv76ZaiRc
— Gus ¯_(ツ)_/¯ (@Gus_802) November 29, 2015
While information on the other victims of the Planned Parenthood shooting is still forming, many are remembering Garrett Swasey for his services. Pam Shockley Zalabak, chancellor of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, released a statement mourning the officer’s death.
“It is with great sadness that I share that the tragic events today at the offices of Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs have touched the campus of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
“A UCCS police officer, Garrett Swasey (pronounced /Sway’zee/), 44, responded in support of Colorado Springs Police to the active shooter situation at about 11:50 a.m. Friday. He was killed in the line of duty.
“UCCS officers are sworn, state-certified police officers. Officer Swasey was on duty at the campus and responded in support of Colorado Springs Police.”
Police have not released information on the others killed in the Planned Parenthood shooting. It has not yet been reported whether Garrett Swasey died at the scene.
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