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Obama on Colorado Shooting: 'Enough Is Enough'

  • VOA News

Planned Parenthood official Vicki Cowart, center, 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 at a Planned Parenthood clinic, Nov. 28, 2015.

Planned Parenthood official Vicki Cowart, center, 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 at a Planned Parenthood clinic, Nov. 28, 2015.

President Barack Obama spoke out Saturday against the deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, saying, "Enough is enough."

"This is not normal. We can’t let it become normal," Obama said in a statement as authorities in several states probed the background of the suspected gunman taken into custody hours after the attack.

"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," Obama said.

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

Motive not yet clear

By late Saturday, police had not disclosed a motive for the attack. But a picture began to emerge of suspect Robert Lewis Dear, 57, with authorities and acquaintances describing him 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.

Colleton County, North Carolina, police released reports to The Washington Post citing at least seven instances of the suspect's involvement in disputes or physical altercations with neighbors or other residents.

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.

Federal investigators were interviewing Dear's former neighbors in another North Carolina town Saturday afternoon.

Dear was to appear in court Monday.

Suspect's profile murky

"We don't have any information on this individual's mentality, or his ideas or ideology," Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Catherine Buckley told reporters early Saturday. "This is going to be a complicated scene that is going to take hours, probably days to process."

Buckley said initial reports described the shooter's weapon as "a long gun," such as a rifle. Buckley said the suspect also carried "items" into the clinic, although authorities didn't know whether they were explosive devices.

Planned Parenthood said Saturday that all of its staff at the clinic were safe. The organization said it did not know the circumstances surrounding the attack or the motive for it, or even whether the organization was the target.

Police response hailed

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the police showed "untold valor" at the crime scene Friday. Speaking at a noon news conference Saturday, Suthers said police were "responsible for saving many, many lives yesterday."

At one of several memorial services in the city Saturday, the Reverend Nori Rost told mourners that "we're here to honor the lives of those who were killed yesterday by a domestic terrorist."

In one vigil attended by local reporters, Vicki Cowart, the regional president of Planned Parenthood, praised the 15 staff members who were at the clinic when the attack began. "They did what they needed to do to protect everyone in that building," Cowart said.

Controversy

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.

Planned Parenthood clinic shooting survivor Ozy Licano describes his encounter with the shooter Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs Colo.

Planned Parenthood clinic shooting survivor Ozy Licano describes his encounter with the shooter Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs Colo.

"We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust," Cowart said in an earlier statement.

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 sites 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.

White House correspondent Aru Pande contributed to this report.

WATCH: Related video from shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado

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