COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (FOX31) — One police officer and two civilians were killed in a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday, the Colorado Springs Police Department said.
Five other police officers and four civilians were also shot. Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said the nine injured people at Penrose and Memorial hospitals Friday night were in good condition.
As police searched the crime scene later Friday night, they did not expect to find any more victims.
The suspect surrendered to police after an ordeal that lasted all afternoon. That happened just before 5 p.m. He was seen being taken away in handcuffs. “The perpetrator is in custody. The situation has been resolved,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
The suspect was identified as Robert Lewis Dear from North Carolina, a law enforcement source confirmed to FOX31 Denver.
The police officer who died was a member of the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs Police Department. A statement from the chancellor identified him as 44-year-old Garrett Swasey, a six-year veteran of the UCCS police department. He was on duty and responded to assist following a report of an officer taking a fire at the Planned Parenthood clinic about 10 miles from campus.
Earlier in the afternoon police were actively exchanging gunfire with one shooting suspect inside the clinic.
“It is a very complicated scene. It is going to take days for us to process,” Buckley said.
Buckley said they had not identified the suspect, but that he had brought items with him to the Planned Parenthood clinic. Police indicated the items may have been explosive in nature. Their were reports they included propane tanks. They said he left items outside the clinic and inside it.
First responders worked all afternoon to transport injured people to hospitals. Penrose and Memorial hospitals in Colorado Springs said they had received at least 11 patients from the shooting scene.
Buckley said officers were still encountering gunfire with one shooter inside the Planned Parenthood office at 3480 Centennial Boulevard during the course of the afternoon. It had not been confirmed if that organization was actually targeted, although she did confirm the incident began there. It was too soon to speculate on a motive for the attack.
This incident began at 11:38 a.m. Friday.
The Planned Parenthood office is in a shopping center that includes a King Soopers grocery store and many other businesses. There were a reported 150 people locked down inside the King Soopers. Police were rescuing and escorting people out of the immediate area of the shooting scene.
Police closed roadways in the area and urging people to avoid the location.
Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains President and CEO Vicki Cowart issued the following statement:
“Our 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 providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.”
Denver Police increased their presence at a Planned Parenthood office strictly as a precaution.
Nationally, Homeland Security briefed President Obama about the situation. The New York City Police Department announced security at Planned Parenthood offices there was being increased as a precaution.
It was not immediately clear whether Planned Parenthood was the target of the shooting.
The city, in the central part of the Colorado, has more than 400,000 residents.
Planned Parenthood is a national health care provider that delivers reproductive health care and sex education to women and men throughout the United States. The organization runs nearly 700 health centers throughout the United States, according to its website.
The group says each year 2.7 million people in the United States visit its health centers for health care services and information. Abortion is among the services Planned Parenthood clinics provide, an issue that’s made the organization a target in the past.
It’s faced sharp criticism in Washington and from some Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail after an anti-abortion group released a series of videos alleging that Planned Parenthood engaged in the selling of fetal organs and parts for profit.
Planned Parenthood has strongly disputed the videos and contended the tapes provide a distorted account because they are heavily edited.
At least three Planned Parenthood buildings have been vandalized since September.
Last year, abortion providers in the United States saw 12 incidents of vandalism, one burglary, one invasion, one arson attack, one death threat and four stalking incidents, according to the National Abortion Federation.