Police in Colorado Springs apprehended on Friday a gunman who stormed a Planned Parenthood facility after a shooting spree that left four officers and an undetermined number of civilians injured, Reuters reported.
Two area hospitals reported receiving nine patients from the shooting. A police spokeswoman suggesting additional victims might still be trapped inside the clinic.
"The officers inside the building have encountered the individual," she said in a live press briefing during the police operation. "They were exchanging gunfire."
Planned Parenthood released a statement prior to the police assault on the facility.
"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," the agency said. "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."
The city's fire department first tweeted Friday that a shooting had occurred at 11:49am at 3480 Centennial Boulevard located on the north side of the city.
Brigette Wolfe, who works across the street, told CNN she could see law enforcement officers including police SWAT teams deployed in the area.
Colorado Springs, which is about 70 miles south of Denver, was the scene of a mass shooting on Oct. 31 when a gunman killed three people near downtown before dying during a shootout with police.
Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest women's reproductive health provider, has been at the center of ongoing controversy over its operation, which includes providing abortion-related services.
Congress in September began a series of hearings and investigations into Planned Parenthood's activities after "sting" videos were posted online by a pro-life. The videos purport to show Planned Parenthood staffers discussing the sale of fetal tissue, which is illegal.
Planned Parenthood says the videos were distorted and that accepting donations for tissue is "fully legal, appropriate, and common among health care providers." But following a push by Republican members of Congress to block roughly a half-billion dollars of annual federal funding allocated to the group, 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."
Abortion-related services account for only three percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood, which also provides screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception.
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