Everything We Know So Far About the Shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood
On Friday in Colorado Springs, a gunman fired on both cops and civilians, taking hostages and injuring at least eight people before being taken into custody.
Cars in Colorado Springs near the site of the shooting. Photo via Dylan Harris
On Friday, chaos broke out around and inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic when a gunman "wearing a trench coat and carrying an assault-style rifle," according to the New York Times, opened fire on civilians and barricaded himself inside the clinic, resulting in a tense standoff with police that was followed by a bloody shootout.
Just before 5 PM local time, the man was taken into custody.
Scanner traffic between officers and dispatchers with the Colorado Springs Police Department provided an inside look into the details of the violence. Though such early accounts should not be taken as irrefutable facts, they can at least provide preliminary details that will be fleshed out in the days to come.
Officers responded to an active shooter situation just before noon local time on Friday, according to multiple media reports. Not long after police arrived an officer was shot in the hand, scanner traffic indicated.
"I've been shot!" he screamed over the airwaves. "I've been hit!"
The unnamed cop was the first of four officers and at least four civilians shot by America's latest mass shooter, whose motives remained unclear. Police were hesitant to shoot through walls or use a sniper to take him down because they were concerned that people were hiding in adjacent rooms, according to scanner chatter.
"We possibly have people in there," an officer said on the scanner. "We have told people to lie on the floor."
At 2:30 local time, police entered the Planned Parenthood and began exchanging gunfire with the suspect. After a few volleys, an officer reported two fellow cops had been shot.
"We're taking fire. We got two hit," an officer reported.
That prompted a response from another officer.
"Put gunfire through the walls if you need to," he said. "Whatever you need to do to stop this guy."
Two hours later, the shooter continued to walk freely through the building.
Using a camera-equipped robot and in-person surveillance, police carefully tracked the suspect's movements throughout the building. For hours police evacuated civilians to safety, and waited for their moment to pounce. Just before 5 PM local time, it came.
"He's saying he's gonna come out with his hands up," an officer said before adding a caveat. "We gotta take him out if he's got any IEDs."
Once outside, the gunman told police he acted alone, but for the better part of Friday officers were unsure if others were involved in what appeared to be a terrorist attack.
In their live-saving efforts, police went door-to-door inside the building, knocking first three times then twice before announcing themselves to the terrified on the other side who were communicating with 911 dispatchers. Scanner traffic indicated that those in hiding were concerned the shooter would pretend to be a police officer. Police rescued one man who was reportedly shot in the chest and hiding in the bathroom.
Officers stalked the gunman and communicated with those trapped in rooms. One by one and sometimes in groups of two or three, police extricated men and women from the building. Just after 4 PM local time police were able to speak with three people trapped in the building by cutting through the wall. The group was thought to be the last remaining people inside the building until a moment later when a dispatcher informed officers that five people were "unaccounted for."
Thirty minutes later, Lieutenant Catherine Buckley told reporters that even after police took down the gunman more work remained. Items the suspect brought with him to Planned Parenthood would have to be inspected before the scene could be cleared. In the early stage of the chaos, scanner traffic indicated the gunman was shooting at propane tanks in the parking lot.
There was speculation on social media that the Planned Parenthood had been targeted by a pro-life extremist, but on Friday afternoon the motivation of the gunman was unknown. Law enforcement agencies in New York increased patrols near the women's health organization's clinics, though no credible or specific threats had been received.
"We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don't yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack," Planned Parenthood said in a statement. "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."
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