Three killed in Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting

Updated at Nov. 28, 2015 at 8:38 a.m.

The man who opened fire just before noon at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood offices is now in custody.

He killed two civilians and one police officer and injured four civilians and five officers.

Robert Lewis Dear is the suspect in the Planned Parenthood shooting, according to officials.

Officials have identified the suspect as Robert Lewis Dear, 59, from North Carolina.

Many suspect the attack on Planned Parenthood was an act of terrorism against the women’s health clinic. The shooter’s motives have not been determined.

Saturday morning President Barack Obama said of the shooting, “This is not normal.  We can’t let it become normal.  If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.  Period.  Enough is enough.”

Throughout Friday afternoon, the man and police exchanged gunfire.

The shooter brought several bags and a propane tank inside the Planned Parenthood building. He also left several “items” outside the building, according to Colorado Springs Police Department Public Information Officer Catherine Buckley.

As of 6:30, the Colorado Springs bomb squad was still on the scene and investigating those items.

People escort an injured person to an ambulance.
Officers escort an injured person to an ambulance.

FBI, CBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department and the Colorado Springs Police Department had officers on the scene.

Officer Garrett Swasey, 44, was among those killed during the Planned Parenthood shooting.

The officer killed, Garrett Swasey, 44, was a member of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Police Department.

“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,” wrote Pam Schockley Zalabak, chancellor of the university, in a statement about Swasey’s death.

Officers of the UCCS police department are state certified. Swasey had served with the force for six years.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains released the following statement during the attack:

We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.

Colorado Springs city officials are asking people to call 2-1-1 rather than 9-1-1  to check on the safety of family members.

“We hold the Colorado Springs community in our thoughts and prayers,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper in a statement. “The bravery and courage of local law enforcement officers have prevented a dire situation from being far worse, and we are all grateful.”

“Our hearts and prayers go out to those harmed and affected in today’s horrific shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, and we are grateful for the courage of the local law enforcement officers and first responders that led to the apprehension of the suspect,” said state Sen. Minority Leader Lucia Guzman in a statement.

“While we do not know yet if Planned Parenthood was the primary target or what the motivation was behind this tragedy, we do know that domestic terrorism anywhere cannot be tolerated,” she wrote. “We unequivocally stand with the staff and clients of Planned Parenthood, and we will always stand up for women’s healthcare rights.”

The shooting comes in the wake of multiple attempts by Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood and escalated threats against the organization.

Statewide, law enforcement officers are monitoring Planned Parenthood clinics.

Photo credit: Marianne Goodland. 

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.