Sunday 4 December 2016

'No more baby parts', abortion clinic suspect told US police

Sadie Gurman

Published 30/11/2015 | 02:30

Colorado Springs shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear
Colorado Springs shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear

The suspected gunman in a deadly shooting at a US abortion clinic said "no more baby parts" after his arrest, a police source has revealed.

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Planned Parenthood, the national organisation that runs the Colorado women's health clinic, claims witnesses said the accused man, Robert Lewis Dear, was motivated by his opposition to abortion, one of America's most sensitive issues.

Three people, including a police officer, were killed in the five-hour stand-off, while clinic staff and patients hid on site.

Mr Dear is today expected to make his first appearance in court over the shootings in the town of Colorado Springs, south of Denver.

In July, anti-abortion activists released undercover video they said showed Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating the sale of foetal organs.

Planned Parenthood has denied seeking any payments beyond legally permitted reimbursement costs for donating the organs to researchers.

Still, the National Abortion Federation says it has since recorded a rise in threats at clinics nationwide.

Anti-abortion activists, part of a group called the Center for Medical Progress, denounced the "barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman" and offered prayers for the dead and wounded and for their families.

Police haven't officially said what motivated Mr Dear (57), to carry out the attack.

Neighbours described him as reclusive, and said he stashed food in the woods, avoided eye contact and warned people about government spying. They said he seemed to have few religious or political leanings.

The Planned Parenthood clinic has long been the site of anti-abortion protests, but a Catholic priest who has held weekly Mass in front of it for 20 years said Mr Dear wasn't part of his group.

"I don't recognise him at all," the Rev. Bill Carmody said.

At a vigil for the victims, Rev. Nori Rost called the gunman a "domestic terrorist".

Vicki Cowart, the regional head of Planned Parenthood, said the gunman "broke in" to the clinic but didn't get past a locked door leading to the main part of the facility.

She said there was no armed security when the shooting began.

A former neighbour of Mr Dear in South Carolina, John Hood, said Mr Dear rarely spoke, but once recommended that Mr Hood put a metal roof on his house so the US government couldn't spy on him.

"He was really strange and out there, but I never thought he would do any harm," he said.

Mr Dear also lived part of the time in a cabin with no electricity or running water in North Carolina. When he did talk, neighbours said, it was a rambling combination of a number of topics that didn't make sense.

"If you talked to him, nothing with him was very cognitive," one neighbour, James Russell, said.

Authorities searched a Colorado trailer belonging to Mr Dear but found no explosives. The official, who has direct knowledge of the case, said authorities also talked with a woman living in the trailer.

Zigmond Post, who lives near the trailer, said Mr Dear once gave him a pamphlet opposing President Barack Obama.

"He didn't talk about them or anything. He just said, 'Look them over when you get a chance,'" Mr Post said.

Irish Independent

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