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'No More Baby Parts': What We Know About the Planned Parenthood Suspect's Motive

Police are refusing to speculate on the motive of alleged gunman Robert Lewis Dear, but he reportedly referenced “baby parts” after he was arrested.

by Atoosa Moinzadeh
Nov 29 2015, 8:15pm

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It's been two days since three people were killed during an hours-long standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, but authorities are still refusing to speculate about the motives of the gunman, identified by police as 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Springs Police Department said on Sunday that information on the motive will remain private as the investigation develops. "We are still processing the crime scene, and we cannot speculate on this individual's motive at this time," Lieutenant Catherine Buckley told VICE News.

Two civilians and one police officer were killed during the rampage on Friday, and nine others were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Planned Parenthood released a statement Sunday on Twitter that said the motive behind the shooting had been confirmed as "opposition to safe and legal abortion."

After Dear was arrested, he allegedly told police "no more baby parts," according to an unnamed law enforcement source quoted by the Associated Press. The AP's source declined to offer additional details or context about the alleged remark, but it seemingly references an undercover video released in July by anti-abortion activists that purportedly showed Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs.

Planned Parenthood maintains that the video was heavily edited and misleading, and that accepting donations for tissue is "fully legal, appropriate, and common among healthcare providers." Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards announced last month it would no longer be accepting any reimbursement for tissue to "take away any basis for attacking Planned Parenthood to advance an anti-abortion political agenda."

Related: Here's Everything We Know So Far About the Planned Parenthood Shooting in Colorado

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who has repeatedly criticized Planned Parenthood over the disputed video and claimed the organization sells "baby parts," denied on Sunday that the shooting was linked to anti-abortion protests.

"This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don't agree with the message," Fiorina said on Fox News. She called the shooting a "tragedy," and said the "deranged" gunman should be tried for murder.

'We should have a discussion at least urging caution when we discuss some of these issues, so we don't get people to a point of going out and committing violence.'

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said on Sunday that both sides of the abortion debate need to "tone down the rhetoric." Hickenlooper told CNN that the shooting and similar acts of mass violence might be a function of the "inflammatory rhetoric we see on all levels."

"I think we should have a discussion at least urging caution when we discuss some of these issues, so we don't get people to a point of going out and committing violence," Hickenlooper said, describing the rampage as "a form of terrorism."

Neighbors described Dear as reclusive, saying he "stashed food in the woods, avoided eye contact and warned neighbors about government spying," according to the AP. Those who knew him said he did not have distinct political or religious leanings. Voter registration records indicate Dear lived in Hartsel, Colorado, a town about 65 miles west of Colorado Springs. He reportedly lived in a small trailer, and the AP quoted a neighbor as saying Dear handed out pamphlets opposing President Barack Obama.

"He was really strange and out there, but I never thought he would do any harm," neighbor John Hood said.

Dear had several encounters with law enforcement in his native South Carolina, where he was arrested for being a "Peeping Tom" and shooting his neighbor's dog with a pellet gun. Both charges were eventually dismissed. The AP reported that Dear also spent time at a cabin with no electricity or running water in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Related: Planned Parenthood Suspect Was Arrested For Being a 'Peeping Tom' and Shooting His Neighbor's Dog

In a statement released on Sunday, Obama called the shooting an act terrorism. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley used the hashtag #StandWithPP in solidarity with Planned Parenthood and the victims of the attack.

Most GOP presidential candidates have remained silent about the attack, putting out a few unrelated tweets. Donald Trump shared an update on polling trends and Marco Rubio posted a Cyber Monday promotion.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who has spoken out often against abortion, weighed in on Twitter, calling the shootings "domestic terrorism, especially for those in the pro-life movement." He did not elaborate on the remark.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the attacks "unacceptable, horrific, and wrong," when he spoke in Lamoni, Iowa on Saturday.

Ohio Governor John Kasich also commented on Twitter, calling the shooting a "tragedy," and saying it he has "hope our nation can heal." 

Follow Atoosa Moinzadeh on Twitter: @amoinzadeh

Reuters contributed to this report.