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Planned Parenthood Shooting Suspect Appears in Court

  • VOA News

Colorado Springs shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear, right, appears via video before Judge Gilbert Martinez, with public defender Dan King, at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center for this first court appearance.

Colorado Springs shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear, right, appears via video before Judge Gilbert Martinez, with public defender Dan King, at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center for this first court appearance.

The gunman accused of killing three people during a shooting attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the western U.S. state of Colorado made his first court appearance Monday.

Wearing a bulletproof vest, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, appeared by video camera, flanked by his court-appointed lawyer.

The judge explained that Dear will face first-degree murder charges and possibly other charges, and Dear indicated that he understood.

Dear has been held in custody without bond since his arrest.

This booking photo released by the Colorado Springs Police Department shows Robert L. Dear, 57, the suspect in the Nov. 27, 2015, shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

This booking photo released by the Colorado Springs Police Department shows Robert L. Dear, 57, the suspect in the Nov. 27, 2015, shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The attack last Friday triggered an hours-long gunbattle and standoff with police in Colorado Springs, leaving one police officer and two other people dead. Nine people were wounded.

Police have not disclosed a motive for the attack. Dear was described by acquaintances as a loner who had past run-ins with law enforcement in Colorado, and earlier in North Carolina.

Police sources were later quoted as saying Dear uttered the words "no more baby parts" — an apparent reference to abortions performed at some clinics — as he was led away from Friday's crime scene.

Vicki Cowart, center, executive director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, joins others in putting their hands on their hearts at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., during a vigil for victims of Friday's shooting, Nov. 27, 2015.

Vicki Cowart, center, executive director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, joins others in putting their hands on their hearts at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., during a vigil for victims of Friday's shooting, Nov. 27, 2015.

Controversy has swirled for years around Planned Parenthood clinics across much of the country, with critics pointing to branches that perform abortions. Supporters argue that the bulk of the organization's work centers on providing family-planning services, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and general health consultations.

In August, about 300 Colorado Springs residents opposed to abortion protested at the Centennial Boulevard clinic as part of a nationwide demonstration over a video that purportedly showed organization employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue. The video has since been discredited.

Some abortion opponents have resorted to violence against U.S. clinics and medical practitioners that provide abortion services; several have been hit by arsonists and bombers. At least two doctors have been murdered by anti-abortion activists, the most recent in 2009, when a doctor in Kansas was slain because he performed abortions.

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