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Three People Killed In Colorado Springs Shooting At Planned Parenthood


A man is in custody and three people are dead, including a police officer, after a single shooter enter a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs yesterday. The shooter has been identified by the Colorado Springs Police Department as 57-year-old Robert Dear. Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee has been covering the story and joins us now. Megan, thanks for being with us.


SIMON: And what else is known about the shooter at this point?

VERLEE: Well, according to the secretary of state's website, somebody with his name and birth date registered to vote in Hartsville, Colo., last year. That's a small mountain town west of Colorado Springs. Unnamed officials are also saying to the Associated Press that he's originally from the Carolinas. It's unclear how long he may have been here in the state. Police say that he entered the clinic yesterday with a long gun of some kind and a number of items - that's the word they're using - that they have - are investigating as potential explosives but aren't saying anything very detailed about it yet. Officers exchanged fire with him inside the building throughout yesterday afternoon. And in the evening, they got close enough to begin some kind of yelled conversation. And he surrendered to them shortly thereafter.

SIMON: And what's known about the people who died? Who were they?

VERLEE: One of them has been named. He was a University of Colorado police officer at the Colorado Springs campus, which is just north of where all this took place. His name was Garrett Swasey. He was a six-year veteran of that force. And last year, Colorado - this last year - last night, Colorado Springs Chief of Police Peter Carey was clearly shaken by his death.


PETER CAREY: All I can say is my heart's broken. This is a really, really tough situation for a lot of people in our community and the community at large.

VERLEE: As for the other two people who died in the attack, Planned Parenthood has said that none of its staff at the clinic were injured, that they were all safe and identified, which suggests the other victims may have been patients or other people who had business there at the clinic yesterday. And in addition to the dead, there were nine people hospitalized with gunshot wounds, five police officers and four civilians. At least as of last night, all were reported in good shape.

SIMON: And, Megan, as best you know from your reporting and your time in Colorado Springs, have there been any specific threats against this Planned Parenthood office?

VERLEE: Not that we know of. And I should say that authorities aren't confirming anything at this point about the gunman's motivations. That said, this clinic was the site of frequent demonstrations this summer, especially after the videos came out reporting to show the national Planned Parenthood organization profiting from the collection and distribution of fetal tissue to researchers. It's also the site of regular anti-abortion protests. And like all Planned Parenthood facilities, it was a pretty secure building. So we're going to find out more in the coming days about what happened there.

SIMON: Megan Verlee, Colorado Public Radio. Thanks so much.

VERLEE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.