The man arrested after a deadly attack and standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday is Robert Lewis Dear, 57, officials confirm. Police gave an honor guard to an officer who died in the attack.
Update at 3 p.m. ET: Few Details Revealed At News Event
Praising the police response and saying they’re relieved that more than three people were not killed, local and state officials offered few details about the case, citing the ongoing investigation during a news conference Saturday afternoon.
At the news conference, officials shared at least two light moments, prompted in one instance by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s praise for Mayor John Suthers’ experience with matters of justice and in another by his statement that Colorado Springs is the most beautiful city in the state.
Asked to clarify basic details about the case, Colorado Springs Police Dept. Chief Peter Carey said he couldn’t say whether the two civilians killed were patients at the Planned Parenthood clinic, or whether shooting began inside or outside the facility.
Update at 2:55 p.m. ET: Victims Won’t Be Identified For Now
Saying that autopsies are being conducted, Colorado Springs Police Dept. Chief Peter Carey says that the victims of Friday’s attack won’t be identified publicly Saturday – and possibly not until Monday.
Update at 2:52 p.m. ET: Tragedy ‘Beyond Speech’
“A tragedy that’s beyond speech,’ Gov. John Hickenlooper says. He then added, “I’m not going to say the perpetrator’s name.”
Update at 2:48 p.m. ET: City ‘In Mourning’
“The city of Colorado Springs is in mourning today,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers says.
Update at 2:30 p.m. ET: Court Appearance On Monday; Vigils Held
Now being held without bond, suspect Robert Dear will appear before a judge Monday afternoon, Colorado Public Radio reports. At least two vigils for the victims are slated for Saturday.
Original post continues:
Dear’s name was leaked to the media Friday night, as investigators began trying to learn more about the man they say killed three people, including University of Colorado, Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey, 44, whose body received a police escort in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Swasey “died in the attack along with two people police are describing as civilians,” Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee reports. She adds, “Planned Parenthood says all of its staff at the clinic came through safely.”
A six-year veteran of the department, Swasey had previously been a champion ice skater, The Denver Post reports. He was married and had two children, a university spokesman tells the Post.
Dear is a native of South Carolina; according to court records, he has faced several charges of traffic violations in both South Carolina and North Carolina, along with two charges that were later dropped, related to accusations of personal intrusion (peeping Tom or similar incident).
From South Carolina’s WCIV TV:
“Reports indicate Dear had lived part of the time in a cabin with no electricity or running water in the North Carolina mountains.
“His neighbors in Black Mountain said Robert Lewis Dear kept mostly to himself. But James Russell said when Dear did talk, it was a rambling combination of a number of topics that didn’t make sense together and he tended to avoid eye contact.”
“This is not normal. We can’t let it become normal,” President Obama said the morning after the attack. “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.”
(You can read more of Obama’s statement at the bottom of this post.)
The attack that began just before noon (local time) Friday wounded nine people — five police officers and four others. All are reportedly expected to recover.
Dear surrendered to police after a standoff that lasted five hours. At the clinic and at Dear’s residence, police acted with caution, alert to the chance that the suspect may have rigged explosives.
“[Police] say the man brought a ‘long gun’ as well as multiple items into the clinic,” reports Colorado Public Radio. Citing Colorado Springs Police spokesperson Catherine Buckley, the station adds, “The scene will remain active while explosives officers investigate the other items. Buckley says the scene is complicated and will ‘take hours, possibly days.’ “
Those items, which included several propane tanks, were secured and no longer a threat as of Saturday morning, police say.
Local officials are crediting the police response with limiting the number of casualties in the attack.
“While this was a terrible, terrible tragedy, it could have been much worse, but for the actions of the first responders,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said, “particularly the police officers involved.”
Describing the scene of the attack Saturday morning, the Colorado Springs Gazette says, “Even several inches of fresh snow couldn’t disguise the crime-scene tape still hung up by the yard at Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard. In the King Soopers parking lot, dozens of snow-covered cars await their owners who were caught by Friday’s killings and hunkered down inside stores.”
Calling Friday’s shooting of 12 people the last thing Americans should have to cope with on a holiday or any other day, President Obama urged a new push to get guns out of criminals’ hands.
From the president’s statement:
“We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect. We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America. And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them.
“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.
“May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.”