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Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood protester dismayed by shooting

November 27, 2015 Updated: December 1, 2015 at 11:31 am
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photo - Joseph Martone Jr.
Joseph Martone Jr. 

Joseph Martone Jr.'s cellphone logged 61 calls and text messages Friday while he was in Las Vegas for the Thanksgiving holiday. Some people wondered if he was OK. Others were curious. Was he involved in the deadly shooting and hours long standoff at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood?

No.

It wasn't Martone who killed a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer and two civilians and wounded nine others Friday afternoon at the clinic at 3480 Centennial Blvd.

"I pray it's not related to the abortion business," he said in a telephone interview Friday night. "I hope it's not about that."

Although Martone is a familiar and adamant protester at the Planned Parenthood clinic - he has been arrested three times for trespassing and served jail time and paid fines for those transgressions - Martone said he prefers prayer over violence.

"It's a really sad thing, no matter what the reason," he said. "No matter how much I despise Planned Parenthood, no one deserves to go through this, and I pray for everybody involved."

Martone, who lives in Colorado Springs, is part of the local Respect Life group of the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs that participates in weekly prayer services near Planned Parenthood. Every Thursday and Friday morning, when Martone said surgical abortions are performed at the site, about 70 people congregate to pray and call for an end to abortion.

The group was there, minus Martone, on Friday morning, but left around 10 a.m., he said. All but one person who regularly attends the Thursday and Friday morning services was accounted for Friday night, Martone said.

"It doesn't look like it has to do with any of us," he said. "Whoever did this had to be pretty distraught."

Colorado Springs Police confirmed the initial call for service Friday came from within the clinic, where most the gunfire appeared to have occurred. The suspect's name and motive have not been released.

The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood has been a target of protesters for years. The clinic, which provides abortions and other women's reproductive health services, moved in July 2010 from 1330 W. Colorado Ave., to Centennial Boulevard in part to put more of a buffer zone between its building and protesters.

At the former site protesters stood on the sidewalk close to the main entrance as they prayed, held religious services and carried signs. Trespassing arrests were not uncommon. The Centennial clinic is set back from public streets on private property, and protesters must stay 200 yards away from the building.

But that hasn't deterred pro-life activists from demonstrating their First Amendment rights by congregating nearby. In August, more than 300 people joined in a protest near the Centennial clinic as part of nationwide objections to secret videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal organs for research. Planned Parenthood denied making profits off the sale of fetal tissue, which is illegal.

Martone protested at the site every day for weeks leading up to the event.

The Rev. Bill Carmody, a Catholic priest and Respect Life Director for the Diocese of Colorado Springs, has held regular prayer services in front of the Colorado Springs clinic since 1993. He was unable to be reached for comment Friday.

The National Right to Life Committee issued a statement saying it "has always been involved in peaceful, legal activities to protect human lives threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. We always have and will continue to oppose any form of violence to fight the violence of abortion."

The organization, which represents 3,000 local chapters, has a policy of forbidding violence or illegal activity by its staff, director officers, affiliated organizations and chapters.

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