COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Suspected Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear mentioned “baby parts” to investigators and in later interviews expressed anti-abortion and anti-government views, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told CNN.
Dear, 57, told them he has anti-abortion and anti-government views, but that doesn’t mean those opinions were his motive for allegedly shooting up the Colorado Springs clinic on Friday, the official said. It’s too early to tell, as investigators are still processing evidence.
After a nearly six-hour bloody standoff that left one police officer dead and five others wounded, the accused shooter dropped his gun after a SWAT team drove up an armored police vehicle, a BearCat, and cornered him, the official said.
Law enforcement officers found propane in the area of Dear’s car in the parking lot and believe he was trying to shoot them to cause an explosion, the official said.
‘Crime against women’
In the absence of an announced motive, public officials in Colorado and beyond are drawing their own conclusions about the attack.
It was a “crime against women receiving health care services,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. She pledged the full resources of her office to investigate.
“Inferences (could be made) from where it took place,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers toldthe Denver Post.
Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, went beyond an inference, saying the shooter “was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion.”
A hermit’s shanty
Dear is being held without bail in a Colorado Springs jail, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. He is due to appear in court Monday afternoon.
Shown in police photos with dark hair and a fluffy white beard, the suspect appears to have lived a long time in rural solitude in the Carolinas, then more recently in Colorado. Over a decade ago, he had some run-ins with the law while living in South Carolina, but was never convicted.
In 1997, Dear’s wife accused him of domestic assault, although no charges were pressed, according to records from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina.
In 2002, Dear was charged with being a peeping tom; those counts were dismissed.
In 2003, he was arrested and charged with two counts of animal cruelty, but he was found not guilty in a bench trial.
He later made his home in a hermit shanty in the mountains of North Carolina, CNN affiliate WLOS reported. It published a photo of a small, basic cabin in the woods of Buncombe County.
The sheriff’s office there knew Dear from a single a civil citation issued in 2014 for allowing his dogs to run wild.