Health

Everything We Know About The Planned Parenthood Shooting In Colorado Springs

CREDIT: Kody Fisher/FOX21 News via AP

Authorities respond after reports of a shooting near a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado say they have apprehended the gunman who opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic early Friday afternoon, injuring at least 11 people, including five police officers. One of those officers and two civilians were killed, according to local news sources.

“The perpetrator is in custody, the situation is resolved,” Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers told reporters at around 7:00pm Eastern Time on Friday. “There is no continuing peril to the people of Colorado Springs.”

The arrest ended a standoff that lasted more than five hours at the reproductive health center. A federal law enforcement source has identified the gunman as 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear, although authorities still say they don’t have information about his motivation.

The officer killed was Garrett Swasey, 44, a member of the campus police force for the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs. Swasey served as a co-pastor at his church, and friends said he routinely responded to calls for assistance off-campus because of his dedication to putting other people’s lives above his own. Swasey was personally opposed to abortion, a friend told the New York Times. But “I don’t think that was on his mind,” Scott Dontanville told the paper. “He was there to save lives. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

The incident began at around 2:00 p.m. EST, and remained active for several hours. During a briefing with reporters at 6 p.m. EST, Buckley said the gunman was still inside the Planned Parenthood office and had not been apprehended. She said “numerous” people had been evacuated. Buckley also said Dear had brought a number of “items” into the building, but would not speculate on what those items were.

Officers responded in an armored Bearcat vehicle, according to the police department’s public twitter account. Police instructed employees at an adjacent restaurant to stay indoors and out of site, according to the Denver Post. Police instructed the media to set up shop about three-quarters of a mile down the road.

Planned Parenthood has been under increased scrutiny since a deceptively edited video accused the organization of illegally selling fetal tissue. The charges were baseless but have been a rallying cry in anti-abortion circles and prompted lawmakers at the state and federal level to attempt to cut off funding.

In a statement provided to ThinkProgress on Friday evening, Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains CEO Vicki Cowart said it wasn’t yet clear whether the women’s health organization was the target of the attack. Cowart did, however, say that anti-abortion “extremists” have created a “poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country.”

“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,” the statement read. “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.”

During the media briefing, Buckley confirmed that the shooting “did start at the Planned Parenthood building” and added that the suspect “had not gone into any other businesses at this point.” She also said, however, that it would be “premature to speculate about this individual’s motives were.”

During the standoff, the suspect was described on emergency radio channels as a white man in his 40s wearing a long coat and a hunting-type hat. Dear was armed with an AK-47 automatic rifle and carried several other items that Buckley declined to immediately identify during the standoff.

Local media reports indicate Dear may have fired on passing cars. The Planned Parenthood clinic is normally open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, and there were reportedly patients and staff inside when Dear arrived and opened fire Friday.

Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms joined local police and county sheriffs at the scene. Multiple civilians have been evacuated from the building by police responders over the hours between the initial call and Dear’s surrender.

Denver Post reporter Jordan Steffen said one woman who was hiding inside the Planned Parenthood building called her brother briefly, asking him to look after her children. He heard gunshots in the background, according to Steffen, and his sister hung up after about two minutes.

This is a breaking news story. This post will be updated with more information.