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Police search for motives in Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting

Police in Colorado Springs continue to search for clues Saturday following a shooting inside a Planned Parenthood clinic that left three dead and nine wounded.

The suspected shooter was taken into custody after a five-hour standoff with police on Friday. The authorities identified Robert Lewis Dear, 57, as the man behind the attack. Dear had reportedly lived in Kentucky and the Carolinas before a recent move to the rural town of Hartsel, Colo. about 60 miles outside Colorado Springs. 

Robert L. Dear is seen in an undated picture released by the Colorado Springs (Colorado) Police Department November 28, 2015.  Dear, 57, has been named as the gunman who stormed a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday, killing three people and wounding nine others before surrendering to police after a bloody siege lasting several hours inside the facility, authorities said.  REUTERS/Colorado Springs Police Department/Handout via Reuters  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTX1W81N

Robert L. Dear is seen in an undated picture released by the Colorado Springs Police Department on Nov. 28. Dear has been named as the gunman who stormed a Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday. Photo by Colorado Springs Police Department/Handout via Reuters

Witnesses said Dear began shooting in a nearby parking lot, and then charged the Planned Parenthood facility in a hail of gunfire that drew dozens of police officers and emergency workers to the suburban area of Colorado Springs.

One person who was inside the clinic told NBC News that Dear was wearing a hunting jacket and was “mumbling and ranting while he was shooting.”

“I heard everyone in the lobby screaming ‘Get down, Get down’ and then I saw a gunman walking with a shotgun just shooting randomly outside of Planned Parenthood,” the witness, Kentanya Craion, told NBC.

Dear barricaded himself inside a room of the clinic, cutting off communication with the authorities for hours and firing sporadically as police entered the building and were able to shuffle some victims to safety, the Associated Press reported.

By nightfall, and amid steady snow, Dear surrendered.

Three people died in the attack, including two civilians and one police officer, identified as 44-year-old Garrett Swasey, a member of the University of Colorado campus police. Five police officers were wounded along with four civilians, though all were said to be in stable condition.

While law enforcement officials have not yet released a motive, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers suggested the investigation is focused on Dear’s mental condition.


Dear reportedly once lived in a bucolic area of North Carolina in a rustic cabin that had no running water. He was described by neighbors there as a loner who did not make eye contact, according to the AP.

“If you talked to him, nothing with him was very cognitive — topics all over place,” James Russell, who lived near Dear’s mountain home in North Carolina, told the AP.

Police records show Dear’s wife called South Carolina police in 1997 to report an incident of domestic abuse, though she did not press charges against him. Police reports also indicate he had a son, Reuters reported.

An online records search failed to disclose whether Dear had been convicted of a crime, but did reveal he had several brushes with the law, including accusations he once shot his neighbor’s dog with pellet gun and peeped into a woman’s window.

Dear is due to make a court appearance on Monday.

The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs will hold a vigil at 7 p.m. local time on Saturday for the victims. 

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