While authorities have yet to ascribe an official motive to the crime, a gunman, identified as Robert Lewis Dear, opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday, killing three and injuring nine. Additional reporting suggests Dear opposed abortion and, according to The New York Times, praised a group that has taken credit for both the murder of abortion providers and the bombing of clinics in the past. The group counts as members the convicted killers of doctors.
Citing an unnamed source who was described as having spoken with Dear “extensively about his religious views,” The Times reported that Dear had praised murderers of abortion providers as doing “God’s work.” He also singled out Army of God’s members as “heroes.” The year of that conversation: 2009, the same year Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered at church by Scott Roeder.
Donald Spitz, who maintains the Army of God’s website, which includes entries for various convicted attackers of abortion clinics, calls Roeder a friend. Spitz told MSNBC that he had written Dear a letter. “I told him, I was reaching out to him, it appears that everybody is against him. I’m not against him,” he said. Spitz said he did not know Dear personally and wasn’t sure about his motivations.
Spitz also said, “I think Planned Parenthood is an evil organization, so I didn’t lose any sleep when I heard about it. They sell baby parts, and they reap what they sow, and now they’re complaining about it.” He added, “There are no innocent people in Planned Parenthood. They’re in there for a reason.”
The three people who were killed Friday include a police officer, Garrett Swasey, and two people who were accompanying patients, Iraq war veteran Ke’Arre Stewart, and mother of two Jennifer Markovsky.
NBC News reported that after being taken into custody, Dear told investigators “no more baby parts.” The CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Vicki Cowart, has cited unspecified “eyewitnesses” confirming that Dear was “motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion.”
In his interview with MSNBC, Spitz said, “I could see where he may have thought he was forced to take some action, if he was thinking about what [Planned Parenthood was] doing. It’s difficult, first, knowing that they’re killing babies in abortion, and second, selling baby parts.”