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Colorado Planned Parenthood Reopens After Deadly Rampage

(Reuters) – A Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic reopened on Monday, seeing patients nearly three months after a deadly shooting rampage at the facility left three people dead and nine wounded.

“Today, we opened our doors in Colorado Springs. We didn’t back down. We didn’t disappear. We returned, stronger and with more conviction than ever,” the clinic said in a statement.

The clinic was closed on Nov. 27 following a bloody five-hour siege that police said began when a gunman opened fire with a rifle outside the building and then stormed inside. He was taken into custody by law enforcement at the scene.

Portions of the building damaged during the standoff will remain closed as repairs continue, said Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

The facility was resuming its work providing a range of healthcare services, including abortion, to the community of Colorado Springs, Cowart said.

Several abortion opponents gathered near the building on Monday as it resumed operations, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

The gunman accused of carrying out the attack, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, faces 179 felony counts, including charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault.

In a court appearance in December, he declared himself guilty and a “warrior for the babies.” He has also told a judge he distrusts his lawyers and wants to represent himself.

The November rampage was the first deadly attack on a U.S. abortion provider since 2009, when physician George Tiller was gunned down at the Kansas church he attended.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Photo: A view of the damage to the entrance of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado November 28, 2015. REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing

Suspect In Deadly Planned Parenthood Attack Declares Self Guilty

By Keith Coffman

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) — The man accused of shooting three people to death and wounding nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last month declared himself guilty and a “warrior for the babies” during an outburst in court on Wednesday.

The disturbance, as prosecutors formally presented murder and other charges against Robert Lewis Dear, 57, bolstered assertions by Planned Parenthood executives that the attack on the Colorado Springs clinic was motivated by anti-abortion sentiments.

Dear has been held without bond since surrendering to police at the end of a five-hour siege on Nov. 27 that authorities said began when he opened fire with a rifle in front of the clinic, then stormed inside.

It was the first deadly assault on a U.S. abortion provider in six years – since the 2009 assassination of a doctor at a Kansas church. Three people, including a police officer, were fatally shot and nine were wounded; no Planned Parenthood staff were killed or injured in the rampage.

Dear’s outburst took place at the start of his hearing in El Paso County court on Wednesday. He was not scheduled to formally enter a plea during the day’s proceedings.

“I’m guilty, there’s no trial. I’m a warrior for the babies,” Dear blurted out in a loud voice while seated beside his lawyers in front of the judge.

Addressing the judge, defense attorney Dan King raised the issue of Dear’s mental competency to stand trial, saying, “I think the problem is obvious.”

A search warrant accompanying police affidavits filed in the case has been placed under court seal, and authorities have yet to publicly disclose a motive for the shooting.

Several media outlets, citing law enforcement sources, have reported that Dear uttered the phrase “no more baby parts” in statements to investigators following his arrest.

Dear, a native of South Carolina who once earned a living as a self-employed art salesman, appeared at Wednesday’s hearing in shackles wearing turquoise-colored jail garb.

At one point, during a discussion between the judge and attorneys about the sealing of documents in the case, Dear spoke out again.

“Seal the truth, huh? Kill the babies, that’s what Planned Parenthood does,” Dear said.

(Writing by Alex Dubuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman, Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler)

Photo: Robert Lewis Dear, 57, accused of shooting three people to death and wounding nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last month, attends his hearing to face 179 counts of various criminal charges at an El Paso County court in Colorado Springs, Colorado December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Andy Cross/Pool

Colorado Shooter Was Adulterous, Abusive Evangelical Obsessed With The Apocalypse, ‘N.Y. Times’ Reports

Robert Lewis Dear, the suspect in Friday’s Planned Parenthood shooting, was a rage-filled, sporadically employed philanderer and drifter who believed that the end of the world was nigh. And as long as he believed in God, he trusted he had a get-out-of-Hell-free card, no matter what violence he advocated or inflicted upon the people in his life, according to an exhaustive, harrowing report published in The New York Times Tuesday.

Among the kernels uncovered from Dear’s sparsely documented life is a sworn affidavit from his second of three wives, given during their 1993 divorce, in which she said of Dear: “As long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”

The Times reports:

[I]n court documents and interviews with people who knew Mr. Dear well, a picture emerges of an angry and occasionally violent man who seemed deeply disturbed and deeply contradictory: He was a man of religious conviction who sinned openly, a man who craved both extreme solitude and near-constant female company, a man who successfully wooed women but, some of them say, also abused them. He frequented marijuana websites, then argued with other posters, often through heated religious screeds.

“Turn to JESUS or burn in hell,” he wrote on one site on Oct. 7, 2005. “WAKE UP SINNERS U CANT SAVE YOURSELF U WILL DIE AN WORMS SHALL EAT YOUR FLESH, NOW YOUR SOUL IS GOING SOMEWHERE.”

In explicating Dear’s extreme evangelical Christian views and impassioned anti-abortion comments (referring to violence against abortion providers as “God’s work”), the article confounds recent right-wing attempts to obfuscate his motives. Although Dear was reported to have said “No more baby parts,” echoing comments made by conservatives in Congress and on the campaign trail, Republicans were quick to put distance between their rhetoric and the shooter’s actions.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) even went so far as to suggest that Dear was a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist,” because, Cruz asserted, he had been registered to vote as a woman (a clerical error that Dear had sought to correct, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette).

Via The New York Times

Obama Hopes Colorado Shooting Will Spark Action On Guns, Honest Conversation About Abortion

In the wake of the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last Friday, a weary-sounding President Obama voiced Tuesday his hope — yet again — that a mass shooting in America might actually inspire action on gun control.

Taking questions in Paris where he is attending an international summit on climate change, the president sounded what has become a familiar post-tragedy refrain: Gun violence on such a scale occurs in no other developed nation and while the U.S. devotes “enormous resources” to fighting terrorism abroad, it seems powerless to stem the “regular process of gun homicides” at home.

“I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn’t happen in other countries,” he said.

He affirmed that he would continue to pursue courses that his administration can take in its final year, but ultimately, Congress, states, and local governments would need to take action.

The president also defended Planned Parenthood, and condemned the violent, mendacious rhetoric espoused predominantly by Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail. The suspect in the shooting was reported to have said “No more baby parts” upon being arrested, echoing comments from politicians who have accused the women’s health care provider of profiteering from the sale of fetal tissue. A Congressional probe and several state investigations into the organization have all failed to find any criminal wrongdoing.

“I think it’s fair to have a legitimate, honest debate about abortion,” the president said. “How we talk about it — making sure that we’re taking about it factually, accurately, and not demonizing organizations like Planned Parenthood is important.”

Police officers and fire department personnel lead people who were in a Planned Parenthood center out of an armored vehicle, after reports of an active shooter in Colorado Springs, Colorado November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing