3 killed, 9 injured in attack on Colorado abortion clinic

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Colorado Springs Shooter Is In Custody, Several Killed


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) -- A gunman stormed a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday and opened fire with a rifle in an attack that left three people dead and nine others injured, authorities said.

The dead included one police officer and two civilians, Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey told reporters about an hour after the suspect had been captured.

See images of the victims and the scene:

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3 killed, 9 injured in attack on Colorado abortion clinic
Colorado Springs shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear of North Carolina is seen in undated photos provided by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. A gunman burst into a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 and opened fire, launching several gunbattles and an hourslong standoff with police as patients and staff took cover. By the time the shooter surrendered, at least three people were killed, including a police officer and at least nine others were wounded, authorities said. (El Paso County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This photo provided by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs shows officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. A gunman who opened fire inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic was arrested Friday after engaging in gun battles with authorities during an hours-long standoff that killed several, including Swasey, and wounded others, officials said. (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs via AP)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: A suspect is led away in handcuffs by police during an active shooter situation outside a Planned Parenthood facility where an active shooter reportedly injured up to eleven people, including at least five police officers, on November 27, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Police continue to investigate the scene and are searching the buiding for possible explosive devices. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: A suspect is led away in handcuffs by police during an active shooter situation outside a Planned Parenthood facility where an active shooter reportedly injured up to eleven people, including at least five police officers, on November 27, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Police continue to investigate the scene and are searching the buiding for possible explosive devices. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: A suspect is led away in handcuffs by police during an active shooter situation outside a Planned Parenthood facility where an active shooter reportedly injured up to eleven people, including at least five police officers, on November 27, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Police continue to investigate the scene and are searching the buiding for possible explosive devices. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
A police vehicle, carrying a suspect, is lead away after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. A gunman opened fire at the clinic on Friday, authorities said, wounding multiple people. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Lt. Catherine Buckley, center, of the Colorado Springs Police Department, talk to members of the media as Fire Chief Christopher Riley, right, looks on after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado Springs Fire Department Chief Christopher Riley, center, reacts to question from the media after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Vehicles block off an intersection after a deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Map locates Colorado Springs, Colorado, where there was a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic; 1c x 1 1/2 inches; 46.5 mm x 38 mm;
People are escorted away from the scene by police after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility on Centennial Boulevard in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. The gunman was captured alive. (Daniel Owen/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: An officer waits on the intersection of Windmill and Centennial while facing south towards the scene of a shooting November 27, 2015 in Colorado Springs, CO. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
An officer stands guard near a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. A gunman opened fire at the clinic on Friday, authorities said, wounding multiple people. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: People are rescued near the scene of a shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015.(Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: People are rescued near the scene of a shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Joan Motolinia shows concern over his sister who was inside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, CO. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Police respond to the scene with an active shooter near the Planned Parenthood at Fillmore and Centennial in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (Stacie Scott/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
A Colorado Springs police officer is transported from the tactical vehicle to an ambulance after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility on Centennial Boulevard in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. The gunman was captured alive. (Daniel Owen/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: A member of the Colorado Springs sheriff's department secures the scene during an active shooter situation near a Planned Parenthood facility where an unidentified suspect has reportedly injured up to nine people, including at least four police officers, on November 27, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A standoff has developed outside the clinic and the area is on lockdown. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Colorado Springs Police spokesperson Lt. Catherine Buckley addresses the media during an active shooter situation near a Planned Parenthood facility where an unidentified suspect has reportedly injured up to nine people, including at least four police officers, on November 27, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A standoff developed outside the clinic and the area is on lockdown. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: People are rescued near the scene of a shooting in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: People are rescued near the scene of a shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Colorado Springs rescue personnel stand ready near the scene of an active shooting in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
An officer from the Colorado Springs K-9 Unit is being transferred from a tactical vehicle to an ambulance before being transported from the scene during a shooting incident n Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (Daniel Owen/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
An officer patrols the perimeter during a shooting incident in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (Daniel Owen/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
Police respond to the scene with an active shooter near the Planned Parenthood at Fillmore and Centennial in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (Stacie Scott/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
A gunman opened fire inside a Planned Parenthood facility on Centennial Boulevard in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. The gunman was captured alive. (Daniel Owen/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)
Police stand guard at the intersection of Centennial and Fillmore near a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. A gunman opened fire at the clinic on Friday, authorities said, wounding multiple people. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOV. 27: Members of law enforcement enter the emergency room at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs where some people were transported from an active shooting near a shopping center, where an armed person is insided a Planned Parenthood and has been shooting at police officers outside. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Colorado Springs police officers and rescue personnel transport an injured officer near the scene of an active shooting in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Colorado Springs police officers search the area near the scene of an active shooting in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Planned Parenthood clinic shooting survivor Ozy Licano describes his encounter with the shooter Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs Colo. A gunman who opened fire inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic was arrested Friday after engaging in gun battles with authorities during an hours-long standoff that killed multiple people and wounded others, officials said. Licano, who the gunman shot toward while he was in his car, suffered cuts from the window glass and was treated and released from Memorial Hospital on Friday. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
A crime scene investigator looks over a police vehicle damaged during Friday's shooting spree near a Planned Parenthood clinic Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in northwest Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Crime scene investigators look over a vehicle damaged during Friday's shooting spree near a Planned Parenthood clinic Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in northwest Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
#BREAKING: Colorado Springs firefighters responding to active shooter at Planned Parenthood: https://t.co/57H9v2T3uq
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READ MORE: Dramatic phone call emerges from Colo. shooting

All nine surviving victims - five police officers and four civilians - were listed in good condition at area hospitals, Carney said.

The suspect first engaged in a gun battle with police but ultimately surrendered to officers inside the building about five hours after the start of the violence, which played out under a steady snowfall in Colorado's second-largest city.

A Reuters photographer at the scene saw a man in a white T-shirt with his hands cuffed behind his back being taken out of an armored police vehicle and placed in an unmarked squad car.

Police said they did not expect to confirm the suspect's identity before Saturday, but believed he acted alone.

The Denver Post and the Colorado Springs Gazette newspapers, each citing an unidentified law enforcement source, reported Friday night that the suspect was identified as Robert Lewis Dear. The Post gave his age as 57, but neither paper had further details.

The slain lawman was identified as Garrett Swasey, 44, a campus police officer for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who joined city police in responding to the first reports of shots fired, authorities said.

Watch more coverage:

Eyewitness Describes Scene Inside Colorado Planned Parenthood

Police declined to discuss the gunman's motivations. But the president of the Rocky Mountains chapter of Planned Parenthood, Vicki Cowart, suggested a climate of rancor surrounding abortion in the United States sets the stage for such violence.

"We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country," she said.

Watch more coverage:

Three Dead in Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting

Cowart told CNN separately that some of the clinic's staff escaped the gunman by following security protocol and hunkering down in "safe rooms" built into the facility.

The Colorado Springs clinic has been the target of repeated protests by anti-abortion activists, and in recent years moved to new quarters on the city's northwest side - a facility derided as a "fortress" by critics of Planned Parenthood.

The national non-profit group, devoted to providing a range of reproductive health services, including abortions, has come under renewed pressure in recent months from conservatives in Congress seeking to cut off federal support for the organization.

Watch more coverage:

Tearful Man Describes Family Phone Call During Active Shooting

CHECKING FOR EXPLOSIVES

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said authorities were able to help guide the movements of officers through the building by watching live feeds from surveillance cameras mounted inside.

But a city police spokeswoman, Lieutenant Catherine Buckley, said it took officers a number of hours to establish communication with the suspect before he gave himself up.

"We did get officers inside the building. They were able to shout to the suspect and make communication with him and at that point they were able to get him to surrender and he was taken into custody," Buckley said.

An hour earlier, police said progress in securing the building was slowed by the fact that the gunman brought "some bags" with him into the clinic and left several items outside, all of which needed to be checked for possible booby traps or explosives.

After the arrest, Buckley said it would take hours more, and perhaps days, for investigators to fully process the crime scene.

CNN reported that investigators had located the suspect's car, and the vehicle would be searched for explosives.

Watch more coverage:

Colorado Shooting Victim Speaks

Police swarmed the area around the building after an emergency call reporting shots fired at about 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time (1830 GMT), and officers ultimately confronted the suspect inside the building, Buckley said.

Television footage aired by CNN showed a number of clinic staff and patients being escorted safely into police vehicles from the building, which lies on the northwest side of Colorado Springs, about 70 miles (112 km) south of Denver.

The FBI and agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting local investigators.

President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting by his Homeland Security adviser, Lisa Monaco, and "will be updated on the situation as necessary, a White House official said.

DEEPLY DIVISIVE ISSUE

As in much of the rest of the country, abortion is a divisive issue in Colorado, figuring prominently in attack ads during last year's U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner, the winner of the election.

At least eight abortion clinic workers have been killed since 1977, according to the National Abortion Federation - most recently in 2009, when abortion doctor George Tiller was shot to death at church in Wichita, Kansas.

Clinics have reported nearly 7,000 incidents of trespassing, vandalism, arson, death threats, and other forms of violence since then, according to the abortion-rights group.

Colorado Springs was the scene of a mass shooting on Oct. 31 in which a gunman killed three people near downtown before dying in a shootout with police.

The city, home to the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Olympic training center, is also a hub for conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family that oppose abortion.

The attack in Colorado sparked jitters across the country. The New York City Police Department reported it had redeployed some of its "critical response" vehicles to Planned Parenthood locations throughout the city. However, it said there were no specific threats to those sites at this time.

Watch more coverage:

Man Led Away From Colorado Planned Parenthood in Handcuffs

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