Robert Lewis Dear has been identified as the alleged Planned Parenthood gunman who police said walked into a clinic in Colorado Springs and opened fire, leaving three people dead including a police officer.
Details about the attack are still emerging, but police said that Dear entered the clinic on Friday afternoon and began firing at patients and employees. When first responders arrived, he opened fire on them, killing police officer Garrett Swasey.
— The Denver Post (@denverpost) November 28, 2015
Swasey was a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs police officer. He was working on duty at the college’s campus at the time the shooting broke out and responded in support of Colorado Springs Police.
“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,” said Pam Shoclkey Zalabak, the college’s chancellor, in a statement released Friday night.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also mourned Swasey’s death, saying that the city lost a very brave officer. He noted that the actions of the first responders and other officers who fired back at Dear saved lives.
“While this was a terrible, terrible tragedy, it could have been much worse but for the actions of the first responders, particularly the police officers involved,” Suthers told reporters.
“They were able to get people out of the building safely, and they were able to make sure that the perpetrator was isolated in a place where there could be communication back and forth about where he was,” Suthers said. “I’m absolutely certain that the result of that was that some people that otherwise would have been victimized were able to get out of that building safely.”
Police said Robert Lewis Dear fired a long gun several times during the three-hour standoff, then eventually began talking to police who talked to him from outside the building.
Originally from South Carolina, Mr. Robert Lewis Dear who has been identified as the allegwd Colorado Planned… https://t.co/qpVgsFR2Yx
— Warren S. Ritz (@DaBauz) November 28, 2015
He later gave himself up, and was seen being led away wearing a white T-shirt. Police said they do not yet know his motive for the shooting.
Police said Dear fired at officers at various times during the standoff, and officers said they were “pinned down” by the gunfire.
As the standoff dragged on, police cleared the area and told people in nearby businesses to lock themselves in.
“We got up and we looked outside, and it was like almost immediately we heard gunshots — easily over 20,” said Caren Kesterson, who works at a nearby SuperCuts.
NBC News reported that police were eventually able to gain the upper hand.
“At one point, the gunman, armed with an AK-47-style weapon, was surrounded in the lobby, according to a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the situation.
“Authorities tapped into the building’s video surveillance system, and were able to monitor the gunman’s movements, officials said.”
Local police did not officially identify the suspect, and said they would not release an identity on Friday night. But law enforcement sources confirmed that Dear was the suspect, saying that he was cooperating with investigators.
Planned Parenthood has been at the center of controversy in recent months after the release of a documentary showing what producers claimed were horrible conditions and showing officials allegedly discussing selling aborted tissue. Though critics claimed that video was heavily edited or embellished, it led many states to move to defund Planned Parenthood.
Details about Robert Lewis Dear are starting to emerge in the hours after the shooting. A law enforcement source told Fox 31 Denver that Dear is from North Carolina, but did not report how long he had been in Colorado.
[AP Photo/David Zalubowski]