Friday 25 May 2018

Three dead in gun attack on family-planning clinic

Mayhem: Emergency services load a wounded person into an ambulance
Mayhem: Emergency services load a wounded person into an ambulance
The gunman, Robert L Dear

Josiah Hesse

A gunman burst into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and opened fire, launching several gun battles and a five hour-long stand-off with police, as patients and staff took cover under furniture and inside locked rooms.

By the time the gunman surrendered, three people had been killed - including a police officer - and nine others wounded.

For several hours, police had no communication with the gunman, who fired intermittently from inside the Colorado Springs clinic.

As the stand-off progressed, officers inside the building herded people into one area and evacuated others.

Officers eventually moved in, shouted at the gunman and persuaded him to surrender, police said. About five hours after the attack started, authorities led away a man wearing a white T-shirt.

A law-enforcement official identified the gunman as Robert Lewis Dear of North Carolina. He is believed to be 57 and it is not known if he had any connection to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood said all of its staff at the clinic were safe. The organisation said it did not know the circumstances or motives behind the attack or whether the clinic itself was the target.

The dead police officer was named as 44-year-old Garrett Swasey, who was married and had a son and daughter. There were no immediate details about the two civilians killed.

Five officers and four others who were injured are said to be in a good condition.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene when the shooting started just before noon on Friday.

Ozy Licano was in the two-storey building's car park when he saw someone crawling towards the clinic's door.

He tried to escape in his car when the gunman looked at him.

"He came out, and we looked each other in the eye, and he started aiming, then he started shooting," Mr Licano said.

"I saw two holes go right through my windshield as I was trying to quickly back up and he just kept shooting and I started bleeding."

Mr Licano drove away and took refuge at a nearby shop.

Inside the clinic, terrified patients and staff hid wherever they could find cover.

Jennifer Motolinia ducked under a table and called her brother Joan to leave instructions for the care of her three children in case the gunman found her.

Joan Motolinia said he could hear gunshots in the background as his sister spoke.

"She was telling me to take care of her babies because she could get killed," he said.

Sunday Independent

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