Accused Planned Parenthood Shooter Won't Stand Trial

Photo: El Paso County Sheriff's Office/AP Photo
Update: The man charged in the deadly November attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood was found to be unfit to stand trial on Wednesday. Robert Lewis Dear Jr., who admitted to committing the shooting that left three dead, will be committed to a mental hospital, The Associated Press reports.

Update April 12, 2016:
The man charged in the November attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood that left three people dead, said that he was "happy with what he had done" because he stopped the clinic from performing more abortions, according to a warrant released this week. The accused shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, had previously told police that he was "upset with them performing abortions and the selling of baby parts." He is facing 179 counts, including first-degree murder.

This story was originally published on November 27, 2015. It has been updated with additional developments in the case.

Update: December 9, 2015:
The Associated Press reports that Robert Lewis Dear, who is being charged today with the November 27 attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood that left three people dead, said during a court hearing today that he is a “warrior for the babies.”

He also said that he is guilty and there will be no trial, though charges have not yet officially been announced and he has not entered a plea.

Update: 1:20 p.m.:
As police try to figure out Colorado Springs suspected shooter Robert Lewis Dear's motive for the attack on Planned Parenthood, reports of what he said after his arrest are being revealed. According to Time, Dear said “no more baby parts” as he was being arrested by a law enforcement official, who could not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity, since he was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

Planned Parenthood also cited witnesses of the shooting, who claimed Dear was motivated by his "opposition to abortion." Anti-abortion activists that are part of the group Center for Medical Progress have denounced the “barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman."

More is also being revealed about the suspected gunman. The Washington Post reported Dear was a "malcontent who drifted from place to place." According to his neighbors in Black Mountain, NC, Dear lived in a small yellow hut with no plumbing that he had built himself, which locals described as a "moonshine shack." Neighbors along the gravel road where he lived off and on said he was a loner and that when he was in town, they kept their kids inside.

“He was the kind of person you had to watch out for,” one neighbor told the paper. “He was a very weird individual. It’s hard to explain, but he had a weird look in his eye most of the time."

Another neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “He said he worked with the government, and everybody was out to get him, and he knew the secrets of the U.S.A. He said, ‘Nobody touch me, because I’ve got enough information to put the whole U.S. of A in danger.’ It was very crazy."

Dear, who described himself to police as a "self-employed art dealer," reportedly also lived in a mobile home in Swannanoa, NC, until about a year ago, and a camper in the mountain town of Hartsel, CO, which he shared with a woman.

Dear had other run-ins with the law dating back to 1997, when his then-wife accused him of assaulting her. Though she filed a report with the sheriff’s office in Colleton County, SC, where Dear lived at the time, she declined to file charges against him, telling police she reported the incident because she “wanted something on record.” The Colleton County police also released reports of seven other incidents in which Dear had disputes or physical altercations with neighbors and others in town.

Dear was also arrested for cruelty to animals and was accused of being a "peeping Tom" in 2002 after a neighbor found him hiding in the bushes near her house at 5:30 a.m. He wasn't convicted in either case.

According to the Colorado Springs' Gazette, hundreds of people gathered on Saturday night for two vigils that celebrated the lives of those lost. Both of the vigils, held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, looked at the life of 44-year-old campus police officer Garrett Swasey, who was one of the first to respond to the shooting.
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"This tragedy won't define our community," Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said. "But the heroism of our first responders and the heroism of Garret Swasey are what defines our community."

The senior minister at All Souls, Reverend Nori Rost, called the shooting "domestic terrorism" and vowed to put an end to the violence.

"We're here to honor the lives of those who were killed yesterday in domestic terrorism," Rev. Rost said. "We're here to honor the work of Planned Parenthood and stand with them in solidarity. We're here to honor the amazing response of the Colorado Springs police and other responders. But we're mainly here to find comfort in each other's company. Together, we can change the world."

Update: 11:05 a.m.: The Colorado Springs Police Department has identified 59-year-old Robert Lewis Dear as the suspect in yesterday's attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, which has killed three, including 44-year-old police officer Garrett Swasey, according to CNN.com. At least nine others — four civilians and five police officers — were taken to local hospitals for injuries and are listed in good condition.
photo courtesy of AP/El Paso County Sheriff's Office

Dear is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday.

In a written statement, President Obama has called for additional gun restriction measurements, reports The Washington Post.

"This is not normal," the president wrote. "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."

Update: 6:58 p.m.: The Gazette in Colorado Springs confirms police have taken the suspect into custody.

In a press conference, the Colorado Springs Police Department confirmed this and reported that 11 have been transported to local hospitals. Five of those were police officers from various law enforcement facilities on site.

"We only just have the individual in custody...to even speculate on a motive would not be reasonable," Lieutenant Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said.

She advised that even though the situation has been resolved, evidence at the scene could take hours, or even days, to be resolved. To those ends, they have not yet inspected the "items" the suspect left at the scene. They did not release any new information about what kind of weapon the suspect brandished.

Citizens are still advised to stay away from the scene of the crime and police will keep the area streets closed indefinitely.

Update: 6:20 p.m.: Lt. Buckley confirmed in a briefing that law enforcement has its suspect confined to the Planned Parenthood building, but that the scene is "not stabilized" and police are "not in contact" with the suspect.

She also confirmed that all of the activity by the shooter was confined to the Planned Parenthood building and that police are working with the staff there to locate and remove as many people as possible.

"We have evacuated numerous people out of the Planned Parenthood building. We know we have four officers who have been injured," Buckley says. "There is a possible fifth injured officer, but I am unable to confirm that." She was also unable to confirm a total number of victims or any fatalities, saying an unspecified number of personal and victims have been removed from the building and taken to a local VA hospital. People trapped in nearby buildings are not yet being evacuated until the situation is more stable.

Buckley said the police need to check out "items the shooter took with him" to the location, but could not confirm if they were explosives. She confirmed there is only one suspect at this time, a male, but said the police have not confirmed his identity.

Additionally, the injured total is now at nine, following a report in The Denver Post that three more are being treated at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, CO.
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Update: 5:29 p.m.: Penrose-St. Francis Hospital confirmed on Twitter that it has received six patients from the shootings, with updates to come.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains issued a statement on today's' events to the media. In full, it reads:

"Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains top priority is the safety of our patients and staff. Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this tragic situation. Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record. 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 proving care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust."

Update: 4:58 p.m.: In a press conference, Lt. Buckley confirmed that the police have only engaged one shooter at this time, although they have not ruled out multiple shooters.

"We do have the individual inside the buildings and as of about a minute ago, when I was listening on the radio, he was still shooting at us," she says. They are still unable to confirm any hostages, the total number of injuries or casualties or the shooter's motivation.

She did confirm reports about the gun, saying, "We were told initially it was a long gun, with high capacity or anything like that we don't know."

Update: 4:46 p.m.: The number of injured has been increased to four officers, according to The Associated Press. Additionally, President Obama has been alerted to the situation, CBS News reports.

At least three were injured during a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, the Associated Press reports. A shooter remains at large in the area surrounding the clinic. At press time, local police tweeted that they were still encountering gunfire in the area, following tweets encouraging citizens to avoid the area.

"We do not know whether [the shooter] is contained or not at this point," Buckley said in a press conference Friday afternoon. "We cannot verify."

Many further details also remain unclear in this active shooter situation. Buckley told the media she could not confirm the number of civilian injuries, whether the three confirmed injured were police officers or security personnel, or whether there were any fatalities.
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Though the Colorado Springs police are pursuing the active situation as if there might be a second shooter, according to protocol, Buckley couldn't verify whether or not the attack was carried out by a standalone shooter. The possibility of hostages hadn't been definitively ruled out, either.

Nor have officials confirmed Planned Parenthood was the intended target of the attack, though The Gazette, a Colorado Springs newspaper, reports the initially 911 call came from the clinic, according to police. A witness at a nearby salon told the Associated Press she heard as many as 20 gunshots in quick succession coming from the clinic's direction. In addition to men's and women's healthcare services, the Colorado Springs Westside Planned Parenthood provides birth control, STD testing, and abortions.

While the search for the shooter continues, Buckley urged nearby residents to take shelter indoors.

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