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Possible motive for accused Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood gunman: 'No more baby parts'

November 28, 2015 Updated: November 29, 2015 at 9:21 am
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photo - Emergency personnel transport an injured Colorado Springs police officer an ambulance Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, at the scene of an active shooter near the Planned Parenthood on Centennial Blvd. in Colorado Springs. (AP Photo/ The Gazette, Daniel Owen)
Emergency personnel transport an injured Colorado Springs police officer an ambulance Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, at the scene of an active shooter near the Planned Parenthood on Centennial Blvd. in Colorado Springs. (AP Photo/ The Gazette, Daniel Owen) 

As Colorado Springs tried coming to grips with its second mass shooting in a month, the revelation of four words uttered by the gunman upon his surrender hinted at anti-abortion zealotry leading up to the attacks.

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, told investigators "no more baby parts" after surrendering to heavily armed officers at the city's lone Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, multiple news outlets reported. The revelation came as Colorado Springs began mourning the three people killed, and investigators continued combing through the bloody crime scene.

The comment offered the first clue as to a motive for the shooting spree, which left two civilians and a university police officer dead and nine others - most of them law enforcement officers - wounded from gunfire. 

Dear's remark alluded to videos released over the summer by anti-abortion activists, which sparked a storm of controversy about Planned Parenthood's practice of using fetal tissue for research. The videos led to calls on Capitol Hill by Republicans, including Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, to de-fund the organization.

The reports cited unnamed law enforcement sources, which The Gazette could not independently confirm. It was first reported by NBC News.

Dear's remarks were among many topics he mentioned - one of which being President Barack Obama - and it remained unclear how much the "baby parts" remark played into the attack, NBC News reported.

Dear remains in El Paso County jail without bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains - an organization specifically featured in the videos - called the revelations "an appalling act of violence" meant to terrorize health care providers amid rising anti-abortion rhetoric and smear campaigns.

Click here to see the complete of Friday's Planned Parenthood shooting. 

The Colorado Springs clinic, 3480 Centennial Blvd., has long been the focus of protests and picketers, and security measures were implemented to keep people there safe.

"We should not have to live in a world where accessing health care includes safe rooms and bullet-proof glass," the organization said in a statement.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch called the attack "a crime against women receiving healthcare services at Planned Parenthood, law enforcement seeking to protect and serve, and other innocent people," and said federal attorneys are assisting with the situation.

Click here to see the continuing coverage of the Planned Parenthood shooting

Meanwhile, the regional head of Planned Parenthood promised to quickly reopen the clinic, the Associated Press reported. The vow came during one of several gatherings held across Colorado Springs as the city mourned its second mass shooting in a month.

On Halloween morning, investigators say Noah Harpham gunned down a passing bicyclist, Andrew Alan Myers, 35, before continuing his rampage west on Platte Avenue.

Armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a .357 revolver and a 9mm pistol, Harpham killed Jennifer Vasquez, 42, and Christy Galella, 35, at a house for women battling alcoholism and substance abuse. Minutes later, he died in a shootout with Colorado Springs police.

"It's just shocking we're going through something of this kind of nature again, in a short period of time," Russ Ware, who runs a business downtown, said. "I hope we can move forward in a positive, healing way."

The Oct.31 shootings led at least two gun control advocacy groups to issue calls for stricter firearms laws.

On Saturday, Obama weighed in, saying "enough is enough."

"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," Obama said in a statement.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers took a middle road as he walked the crime scene Saturday morning. He said he doesn't think regulations on weapons make much sense, but controlling who gets their hands on guns was much on the mayor's mind.

"We need to do a much better job of screening for mental health situations," he said.

The debate unfolded as investigators continued combing through the bloodied clinic and another law enforcement team examined Dear's property near Hartsel, about 65 miles west of the city.

The first report of violence came with a 911 call at 11:38 a.m. Friday, reporting shots fired.

Garrett Swasey, an officer with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Police Department, raced from the campus to help Colorado Springs police.

He died after while under fire from a suspect, who gunned down a man crawling into the clinic before taking aim elsewhere. The names of the two civilians killed were not released Saturday.

The Associated Press reported that the facility's only security guard had left for the day and the gunman never got past the waiting area of the building, according to Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

For much of the ensuing five-hour standoff, Dear seemed unwilling to compromise.

As the standoff began, officers had a vague idea of where the gunman was, and they came under fire while approaching the clinic to rescue people hiding inside.

The drama played out for hours on police radio traffic.

At about 2 p.m., officers sent in to rescue survivors from inside the clinic were told to knock three times, then twice to signal that help had arrived.

Officers also began monitoring the gunman with snipers and surveillance footage inside the building.

Their strategy: "If there's an option to get ahold of those people, have them go low and we'll shoot high," according to radio traffic.

The gunman often seemed calm, waiting for his next move.

At one point, officials say he sat in a chair - assault rifle in hand and looking at the ceiling above. He later walked down a hallway behind a door that goes out to a reception desk.

Soon after, the BEAR, a heavily armored personnel carrier, slammed into the clinic to ease a bottle neck at the clinic's front doors, said El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder.

It then backed out - creating a massive opening at the front of the building.

"As a result of that ramming, we were able to rescue a number of people," Elder said.

At least 24 people were rescued uninjured, along with others who were wounded.

Still, the gunman opened fire as officers moved in to help.

Five law enforcement officers - four from the Colorado Springs Police Department and one from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office - were taken to hospitals with gunshot wounds. Three other officers were injured, but did not have gunshot wounds, officials said Saturday.

Some were ferried by the smaller BearCat armored vehicle, which shuttled victims from the scene to waiting ambulances and police cars left running at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard.

Several federal agencies, including the Army, sought to help cops Friday, said Lt. Catherine Buckley, a Colorado Springs police spokeswoman. Fort Carson was in the process of sending armored vehicles to the scene for police use when the gunman was caught.

But five hours after the rampage began, the gunman spoke up.

"OK, you win," he was reported saying, while offering to come out with his hands up.

Officers braced to kill him if they noticed him carrying explosives. Snipers held him in their crosshairs, scanner traffic indicated.

But the firefights were over.

"We have our suspect right now," someone called on the scanner at 4:52 p.m. "He's saying that he's alone and he's by himself."

"OK, good job," another official replied.

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