Yesterday a crazed gunman went on a shooting spree in Colorado Springs, killing three people and injuring many more. The shooting was immediately denounced by the pro-life community, who strongly condemned the act of violence. Now, the shooter has been identified as 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear. Here’s what we know so far.
Dear has lived in both South Carolina and North Carolina, but recent voting records place him in Hartsel, Colorado, about an hour away from Colorado Springs. He has a long criminal history, including charges for animal cruelty and for being a peeping tom. He was also investigated for domestic violence in 1997, when his wife accused him of hitting her and pushing her out of a window. Altogether, police investigated him nine times for committing various crimes, including threats of violence. According to his voting records, he identifies as a woman and registered as a member of the Unite Against Fascism party.
What motivated Dear to commit this atrocity is unclear, but what is clear is that he is a deeply disturbed and violent man. And although nothing is known about his motives yet, the National Abortion Federation is already blaming the violence on the Center for Medical Progress’ undercover videos, exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal sales of baby body parts.
Since a series of highly-edited, misleading anti-abortion videos was released in July, we have seen an unprecedented increase in hate speech and threats against abortion providers. We have been quite worried that this increase in threats would lead to a violent attack like we saw today.
This clinic is part of the Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains affiliate, which was featured in one of the highly-edited smear videos released this summer. Since that video, the affiliate has seen an increase in protesters and death threats against one of their doctors.
Although anti-abortion groups may condemn this type of violence when it happens, the way that they target and demonize providers contributes to a culture where some feel it is justifiable to murder doctors simply because they provide women with the abortion care they need.
This statement was released despite the fact that absolutely no evidence has been released linking the videos to the shooting, and that no Planned Parenthood employees were injured or killed in the shooting — which would indicate that Planned Parenthood may not have been the specific target of his violence, a point that Planned Parenthood itself made sure to emphasize yesterday:
“We don’t know full circumstances & motives behind this criminal action, & we don’t yet know if PP was in fact the target of this attack.”
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) November 27, 2015
Regardless of what this man’s motives were, his acts of violence were despicable and inexcusable. And for the time being, the responsible thing to do is to wait before casting aspersions or assigning blame.