Robert Lewis Dear allegedly launched a terror attack against a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs where three people, including a police officer, were killed.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers declined to discuss motive but said that people can make “inferences from where it took place.”
Democratic strategist James J. Devine condemned the shooting and said the violence against Planned Parenthood is a direct result of irresponsible political rhetoric used by Republican politicians, who have described the medical provider as something evil.
“Planned Parenthood does good work for millions of American women, but it has been demonized as part of the right-wing’s attempt to confuse the public,” said Devine. “Their is blood on the hands of Fox News and the Republican Party, but I doubt they will admit the error of their ways.”
Officers from the Colorado Springs Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for service in an active shooter at the medical facility at 3480 Centennial Boulevard shortly after 11:30 am.
A University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer, Garrett Swasey (pronounced /Sway’zee/), 44, was killed in the line of duty as he responded in support of local police to the active shooter situation at about 11:50 a.m. Friday.
Police Officer Garrett Swasey, a six-year veteran of the university police department, was shot and killed while responding to the crime scene.
A subject armed with a rifle had entered the facility and opened fire on employees and patients before barricading himself inside.
Swasey was among the initial responders and was fatally shot at the scene along with two civilians.
Three police officers, one El Paso County Sheriff’s Office deputy, and four civilians suffered gunshot wounds during the incident.
A SWAT team took the subject into custody inside the building approximately five hours later.
Dear was monitored by security cameras as he engaged in a standoff with police that lasted for five hours. Shots were fired at 11:38 a.m., police said, and Dear was taken into custody at 4:52 p.m. after police entered the building.
“They were communicating that to the officers, the SWAT team officers that were in there,” Suthers said. “In fact, they were emailing diagrams of the building with marks where the suspect was.
“They were setting up for a possible intrusion by heavy equipment that could cut him off in a certain way that would trap him,” Suthers said. “But they were also, importantly, able to say that people in rooms that were far away from him could be extricated from the building, and that is in fact what happened.
“Just as they were getting ready to bring this to a resolution, he started yelling that he was willing to give up. And we watched that happen on these security cameras,” Suthers said.
The standoff came to an end when police officers entered the building and began shouting at the suspect, according to Colorado Springs Lt. Catherine Buckley.
It was then that officers got “him to surrender and he was taken into custody,” Buckley said.
Following Dear’s arrest, police confiscated several items, including a “long gun” and several propane tanks, which Colorado Public Radio says are no longer a threat.
Police have not yet revealed a motive for the 57-year-old’s alleged shooting rampage that left three people dead and injured nine bystanders.
Dispatchers say the alleged gunman was wearing a long coat and a hat commonly worn by hunters, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
Court records in Colleton County, South Carolina, show Dear had been convicted of several misdemeanor traffic violations, including speeding, a seat-belt violation, driving an unregistered vehicle, and operating a vehicle in unsafe mechanical condition.
Dear was charged in Colleton, South Carolina, with two counts of cruelty to animals in 2002, but was found not guilty in a bench trial.
He was also hit with “peeping Tom” and eavesdropping charges in 2002 in Colleton County. Lynn Roberts and her husband reported that Dear, their neighbor at the time of the incident, “had been making unwanted advancements to the victim [Roberts].”
“Memorial day weekend last year, 2001, was the first time that the Roberts noticed Mr. Dear in the bushes by their house,” a report of the incident reads.
The peeping-Tom and restraining-order charges were later dismissed.
Dear was also involved in at least two altercations that never reached the court system. The Daily Beast obtained police records that show that in 1997 his wife, Pam, called police after Dear “took her keys from her and locked her out of their residence.”
When Pam attempted to enter their shared home through a window, he “hit her and pushed her out the window,” the report reads.
Pam “wanted something on record of this incident occurring and police took photos of ‘apparent bruises’ on her body,” The Daily Beast reports.
In September 2004, a neighbor named Douglas Moore reported to police that Dear had threatened him. Dear “told him that he was going to do bodily harm to him because the suspect thought the victim pushed his motorcycle over on the ground,” records obtained by The Daily Beast reveal.
One survivor of the shooting, Ozy Licano, says he was waiting in his vehicle for someone in front of the clinic when a gunman opened fire with a rifle
Licano, described a harrowing encounter with the gunman as he fled the scene in his car.
“He came out, and we looked each other in the eye, and he started aiming, and then he started shooting,” he told AP. “I saw two holes go right through my windshield as I was trying to quickly back up and he just kept shooting and I started bleeding.”
“He was aiming for my head. It’s just weird to stare in the face of someone like that. And he didn’t win.”
According to a collection of 13 Colleton County Sheriff’s Office incident reports, Robert Lewis Dear lived in the county from at least 1997 until 2006.
The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office’s first contact with Dear came on June 22, 1997 when the sheriff’s office handled a domestic violence complaint against Dear. He reportedly assaulted his wife. His wife told the sheriff’s office that she wanted the alleged assault documented, but did not want to press charges.
Two 2002 reports listed Dear as the suspect in a pair of incidents. On May 23, 2002, he was arrested on a charge of being a peeping tom after an neighbor reported that Dear had allegedly been spotted hiding in the brush near her home and looking into the residence. That charge was dismissed when it went to a preliminary hearing.
On Nov. 1, 2002, Dear was a suspect in a animal cruelty case, suspected of shooting a neighbor’s dog with a pellet gun. He denied shooting the animal and apparently no charges were filed.
A check of Colleton County court records also lists several traffic offenses and civil cases involving Dear.
The last encounter between the sheriff’s office and Dear was on April 17, 2007 when Dear contacted the sheriff’s office to report that the former tenants of a rental property he owned allegedly removed a hot water heater and refrigerator after being evicted. At that time Dear listed his home as Swannanoa, N.C. Both Swannanoa and Black Mountain are near Asheville, N.C. Media reports state that Dear’s Black Mountain residence was a cabin without running water or electricity, located on a dirt road.
The incident reports involving Dear handled by the local sheriff’s office reported that he was born in Charleston. In many of those reports, he listed his occupation as a self-employed art dealer.
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