(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — The mayor of Colorado Springs said it “certainly appears” the shooting and standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic that left three dead Friday was an act of domestic terrorism.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers would not comment on a motive for the shooting. Police haven’t released a possible motive or said whether the clinic was the intended target.
“We have a person that’s pretty much off the grid and acting for whatever motivation,” Suthers said on ABC’s “This Week.” “[It’s] very hard to ferret out those folks.”
The shooting suspect, 57-year-old Robert Dear, entered the clinic Friday, where he engaged in a standoff with police that lasted for hours, authorities said. Three people were killed and at least nine others were injured.
“All indications are this guy, as I say, was off the grid,” Suthers said.
Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Dear made rambling comments during the incident, some of which suggested animosity toward the health care provider. They said the Justice Department is building a domestic terrorism case against Dear, though it would only move forward if somehow the state capital case was sidetracked.
Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said it appears the clinic was targeted. She said she believed a “negative environment” around Planned Parenthood contributed to recent attacks on the health care provider.
“We’ve seen that across the country from all sorts of speakers in the last few months,” Cowart said. “I can’t believe that this isn’t contributing to some folks, mentally unwell or not, thinking that it’s OK to — to target Planned Parenthood or to target abortion providers.”
“The airwaves are full of anti-abortion language, of anti-Planned Parenthood accusations, much of which is false in nature,” she continued. “We at Planned Parenthood are first and foremost a health care provider. We provide life-saving services to all kinds of folks, men and women, across our communities, and the tirades against Planned Parenthood in the last few months have really been over the top.”
Cowart said “Planned Parenthood holds the safety and the well-being of our patients and our staff at the very top of our list,” adding that all of the staff at the Colorado Springs clinic escaped uninjured.
She also recognized how those in the building Friday “responded perfectly” to the shooting and standoff.
“They got away from the front of the building; they got into the back, locked portions of the building. They called 911 immediately,” Cowart said. “They moved into locked office spaces, not one big space but different office spaces around the building, and they hunkered down. They quieted their cell phones, they didn’t talk, and they waited for the officials to rescue them.”
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