While it's still unclear exactly what drove Robert Lewis Dear to allegedly shoot up a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Friday, killing two civilians and a police officer, details about his previous encounters with law enforcement suggest he was troubled.
The 57-year old suspect was born in South Carolina, where he lived for most of his life. A spokesperson from the Sheriff's office in Colleton County, South Carolina couldn't confirm whether Dear was currently an "active resident" of their jurisdiction. Voting records indicate Dear had relocated to Hartsel, Colorado, a town about 65 miles west of Colorado Springs.
Documents obtained by VICE News show that Dear was no stranger to police while he lived in Walterboro, South Carolina, a town of about 5,000 located 50 miles west of Charleston.
In 1997, Dear's wife at the time, Pam, filed a complaint alleging that Dear assaulted her after she returned home late one night. He reportedly "took her keys from her and locked her out of their residence." She says she tried to climb through a window, but when she did, he hit her and pushed her out. When Dear's wife visited her family physician the next day for treatment of her injuries, she wanted to make a record of the incident but didn't want to press any charges.
Dear was arrested in 2002 for being a "Peeping Tom," according to police records. The complaint against him was filed by Lynn Roberts, who had recently moved with her husband next door to Dear. She said he "leered" at her regularly, and made "unwanted advances." She told police she noticed Dear watching her from a hiding spot in the bushes on Memorial Day in 2001. She also reportedly saw Dear "looking into her house" one night after she woke up to the sound of her dog barking.
At the time the complaint was filed, Roberts said that she was "in fear of her safety." Case records indicate that Roberts filed for a restraining order against Dear.
The incident report describes Dear's home as having an American flag and a 'Rebel" (Confederate) flag flying in front of it.'
A year later, in 2003, Dear was arrested for animal cruelty. The charges were dropped a year later. The complaint against him states that Douglas Moore, Dear's other neighbor, was with his step-son doing yard work. Moore alleged that his dog was walking down the driveway when "a shot was fired from the residence next to his." The incident report describes Dear's home as having an American flag and a "Rebel" (Confederate) flag flying in front of it."
Moore found a small wound on his dog and drove him to a nearby veterinary clinic. The vet determined that the dog had been shot with a pellet gun.
When interviewed by Sheriff's Deputy Chris Lovelace, Moore said Dear denied involvement in the dog's shooting, but did reportedly comment "Douglas was lucky that it was only a pellet that hit the dog and not a bigger round." Lovelace noted that his seemed strange since they hadn't told Dear what kind of gun had been used to shoot the dog.
In 2004, Moore reported Dear again to local authorities. This time, Moore alleged that Dear called him in late September "and told him he was going to do bodily harm to him" because he suspected Moore had pushed his motorcycle to the ground. "This is an ongoing problem between the victim and the suspect," the police report notes.
Dear surrendered to the police after an hours-long standoff on Friday. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said authorities had interviewed Dear at length, but weren't ready to discuss a possible motive. However, Suthers said people could "make inferences from where it took place," and also suggested that Dear's mental health was being considered in their investigation.
The Associated Press reported that those who know Dear said he seemed to have few religious or political leanings. In his voting records, Dear identifies himself as an "unaffiliated" voter.
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