Planned Parenthood shooting suspect made comment about 'no more baby parts': Sources

Police Tracked Planned Parenthood Suspect Live as Situation Unfolded
Police Tracked Planned Parenthood Suspect Live as Situation Unfolded

The day after a gunman killed three people and shot nine others at a Colorado Planned Parenthood office, officials tell NBC News a motive remains unclear, but say the suspect talked about politics and abortion.

Robert Lewis Dear, a North Carolina native who was living in a trailer in Colorado, made statements to police Friday at the scene of the Colorado Springs clinic and in interviews that law enforcement sources described as rantings.

In one statement, made after the suspect was taken in for questioning, Dear said "no more baby parts" in reference to Planned Parenthood, according to two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case.

But the sources stressed that Dear said many things to law enforcement and the extent to which the "baby parts" remark played into any decision to target the Planned Parenthood office was not yet clear. He also mentioned President Barack Obama in statements.

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Dear is being held on no bond, and isn't expected to appear in court until Monday, according to jail booking records.

Friday morning's shooting at the Colorado Springs clinic resulted in a five-hour standoff between the suspect and police. One of the three killed was a police officer, Garrett Swasey, 44; the other two, described as civilians, will be identified pending autopsies, officials said.

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Law enforcement officials are looking into the background of the suspect. Police are interviewing people who knew Dear, including his girlfriend in Colorado. They are also examining his computer and any social media footprint.

Sources said there would have been nothing apparent in Dear's background — including a felony conviction or previous mental health issue — that would have disqualified him from buying an AK-47 style, high-powered rifle used in the shootings.

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But a look at Dear's criminal past shows a history of other arrests, including ones for domestic violence against his then-wife in 1997, and being a "Peeping Tom" in 2002 after a neighbor in South Carolina reported him watching her, according to documents obtained by NBC News.

A relative by marriage told NBC News that the allegations against Dear are shocking. "I could never imagine him doing anything like this," said the relative, who did not want to be identified.

A former neighbor of Dear's in South Carolina told The Associated Press that Dear often acted strangely, but he didn't think he was dangerous.

"He was really strange and out there, but I never thought he would do any harm," said Dear's former next door neighbor John Hood.

Hood said Dear rarely talked but when he did, he offered unsolicited advice, like recommending that Hood put a metal roof on his house so the U.S. government couldn't spy on him. Hood said he chose to put up a fence because Dear liked to skinny dip.

Other former neighbors said Dear hid food in the woods, sometimes lived in a cabin in North Carolina with no electricity or running water and said he made a living off selling prints of his uncle's paintings of Southern plantations and the Masters golf tournament.

James Russell, who lived near the cabin Dear said the alleged gunman tended to avoid eye contact, but if he did communicate, he mostly rambled about things that didn't make sense. "If you talked to him, nothing with him was very cognitive," Russell said.

In Colorado, people who encountered Dear also said he was fairly quiet. Jamie Heffelman, owner of the Highline Cafe in Hartsel, said Dear sometimes visited the post office to pick up his mail, but he didn't say much.

"Nobody really knows him. He stays to himself," she said.