Robert Lewis Dear, the 57-year-old man suspected of opening fire in a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs last week, appeared before a judge Monday afternoon.
Dear is accused of killing three people, one police officer and two civilians, and wounding nine others during an hourslong standoff with local authorities that ended with his surrender late Friday. Dear faces first-degree murder charges, although District Attorney Dan May said additional charges may be forthcoming. Prosecutors are expected to formally charge Dear on Dec. 9.
Wearing a white vest, Dear made his first appearance in court via a closed-circuit camera from jail, alongside public defender Daniel King, the same defense attorney for Aurora, Colorado, theater shooter James Holmes.
Police have said they would not disclose a motive for the attack during the ongoing investigation. Investigators told ABC News that it would take six to seven days to process the crime scene. Judge Stephen J. Sletta also granted the prosecutors’ request to seal court documents that gathered information following the Nov. 27 attack.
According to the National Abortion Foundation, Planned Parenthood facilities have seen eight murders and more than 220 bombings and arson attacks since 1977, the Associated Press reported.
Several news outlets have cited an anonymous law enforcement official who said Dear rattled off a list of statements shortly after his arrest, including telling authorities “no more baby parts.”
Dear’s phrase recalled the controversy surrounding the secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how the organization provided fetal tissue to researchers.
Planned Parenthood CEO and President Vicki Cowart said in a statement Sunday that eyewitnesses believed Dear was motivated by his opposition to abortion. She also said there was an increase of “hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns” against Planned Parenthood the past few months, enough to “breed acts of violence.”
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, echoed Cowart’s statement, saying there was an “incredible escalation of harassment and intimidation” over the past five years.
“This kind of rhetoric towards doctors and women seeking health care has real impact,” Richards told NPR on Monday. NPR also pointed out that Richards does not, however, specifically link this “hateful rhetoric” to Friday’s attack.
As lawmakers headed back to Congress after the holiday break, it remains unclear how Friday’s shooting will affect the congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood, including the special House subcommittee that former Speaker John Boenher announced in October.
Congress must also pass funding bills by Dec. 11 to keep the government open, and some Republicans have said they wouldn’t vote for the legislation, unless it defunded Planned Parenthood.