Mother of Two and Iraq War Veteran Identified as Civilian Victims in Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting
"She was the most lovable person," said the father of slain shooting victim Jennifer Markovsky
Two days after a shooter killed three people and injured nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, the two civilians who lost their lives have been identified as a mother of two and an Iraq war veteran who had two children.
Jennifer Markovsky, 36, was among those killed in the rampage on Friday, her father, John Ah-King, confirmed to The Denver Post on Sunday. She was accompanying a friend to Planned Parenthood at the time.
“She was the most lovable person,” Ah-King said. “So kind-hearted, just always there when I needed her.”
Ah-King, who lives in Hawaii, said he first learned of his daughter’s death through his other daughter, who was told by friends.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Ah-King said as he sobbed. “I just messaged her Thursday to say happy Thanksgiving.”
The second slain victim was identified as Ke’Arre Stewart, a 29-year-old father of two and Army veteran who served in Iraq.
Stewart joined the army after graduating from La Vega High School in Texas in 2004, his longtime friend Amburh Butler told the Post. Stewart was stationed at Fort Hood and did one tour in Iraq.
“He was a stand-up guy,” Butler said. “If you were hungry, he fed you. If you were cold and needed a ride, he was just there. He was a good friend and an amazing listener.”
The third victim was previously identified as Garrett Swasey, a 44-year-old police officer who worked at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and was one of the first to respond to the shooting, campus spokesperson Jared Verner confirmed to The Denver Post on Friday.
Friends and family gathered to mourn Swasey, a father of two, at a church service on Sunday, the Post reports.
The nine injured people “are in good condition,” Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police said Friday.
At least five people who were shot, including two law enforcement officers, were released from the hospital by Saturday. Three other law enforcement officers are still being treated at Penrose Hospital and are expected to make full recoveries, according to the Post.
Shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear was taken into custody Friday afternoon, after a five-hour-long active shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic.
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.”
Dear is being held without bond at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center and is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday. Although the alleged gunman spoke of “body parts” to authorities following his surrender, there is no official motive yet in the shooting, Buckley confirmed to PEOPLE on Sunday.
Investigators are still searching for evidence left at the scene of the rampage, where mourners continued adding to a memorial for the victims.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama released a statement addressing the tragedy, saying, “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.”