[CN: gun violence, anti-agency rhetoric and terrorism, deaths. Linked material cannot be guaranteed to be safe.]
I’m opening this second thread to discuss Friday’s terroristic incident at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. As of 6:30 AM ET, 3 people have died from gunfire wounds. Two are still-unnamed civilians. The third is University of Colorado CS police officer Garrett Swasey. According to the New York Times story on Swasey, he was 44, a married father of two, and a volunteer pastor at his church. Nine others were also hospitalized.
The Denver ABC affiliate has some coverage that is fairly informative. Major points:
*The first reports came in at 11:38 AM local time (1:38 PM ET) of a shooting at Planned Parenthood, not a nearby bank as early reports suggested. Some people did shelter at the bank and other local businesses.
*The gunfire continued for several hours. Police evacuated some people from sections of the PP building while the situation was active.
*Planned Parenthood announced that all of its staff was safe.
*The suspect was reportedly using a long gun. He also brought “items” into the Planned Parenthood, which were being investigated as possible explosives. The ATF, the FBI, and the CBI all have a presence at the crime scene as well as local police.
*The suspect is in custody. His name is reported to be Robert Lewis Dear.
I’ve seen Dear described as 57 or 59. He is white. The police announcement says he is from North Carolina. The website The Heavy reports about Dear that he was originally from South Carolina, and has an arrest record there and in North Carolina. Most are traffic- related, but he has also been charged with animal cruelty, eavesdropping, and peeping Tom offenses. None of the last three resulted in convictions.
Little else has been revealed about him, including why he targeted this particular Planned Parenthood. I will note that it was the subject of a large anti-agency protest in August. We know this shit doesn’t happen in a void, and the vicious and false attacks on Planned Parenthood sparked by the heavily edited “Center For Medical Progress” videos have resulted in actual violence already. (Media Matters had a discussion of anti-Planned Parenthood arsons back in October.)
It is also worth noting that Colorado Springs is something of a centre for right-wing Christianity. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family is headquartered there, as is New Life Church (the organization founded by now-disgraced Ted Haggard) and Biblica, one of the biggest Bible publishers, among others, according to this 2013 PBS story. Colorado also has an open carry law that makes it easy to carry weapons in public, a factor that, as Mother Jones explored, may have contributed to the mass shootings in Colorado Springs on October 31. It may also be relevant to yesterday’s events.
Hillary Clinton Tweeted her support for PP while the situation was ongoing. She was the first presidential candidate to do so. Five hours later, Bernie Sanders followed her lead. As of 7 AM ET, no other candidates have responded to the attacks via Twitter. ETA: as of 12.40 ET, both Martin O'Malley and Ted Cruz have tweeted about this. O'Malley, like Clinton and Sanders, used a variation on "I Stand with PP." Cruz indicated that he was praying for the loved ones of the deceased, the injured, and for the "brave first responders who got the situation under control." So if you were a patient or staff who wasn't physically injured, Cruz has no prayers for you. He seems nice.
Please feel free to post updates below. As always, this is to be a safe space, which in this case also means an image-free thread. The content note for the post applies throughout the thread; please CN with additional notes as necessary for your post. I will post updates as I can.
The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence — people who woke up in the morning and bid their loved ones goodbye with no idea it would be for the last time.
And yet, two days after Thanksgiving, that's what we are forced to do again.
We don't yet know what this particular gunman's so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect. We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America. And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them
This is not normal. We can't let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we 're going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.
May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.
I am grateful that the president has released a statement and that he has (correctly) connected this massacre to gun violence. I am beyond angry that I live in a country where he cannot even hint at a link between this incident and the right's violent anti-agency rhetoric and lies about Planned Parenthood.
Update 2: According to the Twitter feed of reporter Tom Roeder, the mayor of Colorado Springs is calling the shooter a "misdirected Idealog"[sic] which is the closest anyone official has come to saying, thus far, that virulent right wing ideology is very likely a motivating factor.
Update 3: The Daily Beast has more on Dear's criminal record. [CN: linked story contains descriptions of cruelty to an animal, sexualized intimidation and intimate partner violence.] There are about a million reasons to shift away from talking about mass shooters as "mentally ill," and towards "abusive assholes." But one of the most important is that they so often have a history of being violent with their partners, neighbors, and others within their orbit that they target for sexual or other harassment. Yet our cultural predispose many USians to downplay or disbelieve such reports, instead of (a)taking survivors and their safety seriously and (b) also viewing these reports as crucial warnings about the violent men within our midst. What a toxic mess at the individual and systemic levels.
Update 4: Buzz Feed News is reporting [CN: descriptions of domestic and other interpersonal violence and cruelty towards animals at link) that Dear had recently been handing out anti-Obama pamphlets to a neighbor in Hartsel, CO, where he had most recently resided.