3 Dead Including 1 Police Officer, 9 Injured in Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooting; Suspect Identified and in Custody
One police officer and two civilians were killed, authorities say
Three people were killed and nine were injured during a five-hour-long active shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, authorities announced at a press conference.
Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police announced that one police officer and two civilians were killed.
Buckley said that the nine injured people “are in good condition at this time.”
The slain police officer, identified as Garrett Swasey, worked at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and leaves behind a wife, Rachel, and two children, campus spokesperson Jared Verner confirmed to The Denver Post.
Officer Swasey, 44, “responded in support of Colorado Springs Police to the active shooter situation at about 11:50 a.m. Friday. He was killed in the line of duty,” Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said in a statement. He “was a six-year veteran of the UCCS Police Department.”
Authorities have identified the suspect as Robert Lewis Dear, 57. He was taken into custody at 4:52 p.m. local time after a shooting that began at 11:38 a.m. with a shots fired call at the Planned Parenthood building.
Buckley said that officers who were in the building “were able to shout to the suspect and make communication with him, and at that point they were able to get him to surrender.”
She said a weapon being used by the shooter was a “long gun.”
Buckley did not speculate on the suspect’s motive. According to The Denver Post, the suspect told officers he acted alone.
President Obama: ‘Enough Is Enough’
On Saturday, President Barack Obama released a statement addressing the tragedy and calling on Americans to not allow mass shootings to “become normal.”
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Suspect Took ‘Some Bags’ Into the Building; Reports of Propane Tanks Nearby
At an earlier press conference before the suspect was caught, Buckley said that the suspect took “some bags” into the building, and referenced reports of propane tanks outside the building. She could not confirm that the suspect brought anything explosive but she said that the scene “is going to be going on for the next several hours” as police inspect these items.
Bomb technicians have searched what is believed to be the suspect’s car for possible explosives.
A shelter-in-place warning was issued for local businesses, CNN reported.
The area in which the shooting took place is busy and has many shops. It was 15 degrees and snowing in Colorado Springs Friday, and law enforcement experts have said the weather might have complicated the situation.
Buckley said that although Friday was a holiday for many workplaces, “This was an active, open day for Planned Parenthood,” and that people had appointments for care.
Despite the fact that it’s not yet known that Planned Parenthood was the target for the attack, Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a written statement, “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.”
Colorado Springs is in the central part of the state, about 70 miles south of Denver, has more than 400,000 residents.
Check back with PEOPLE for updates on this developing situation.