While the debate rages on over the motive of alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear, the man himself seems fairly convinced about why he was arrested.
“I am guilty—there will be no trial,” the 57-year-old shouted as Judge Gilbert Martinez read the charges against him in court Wednesday. “I am a warrior for the babies.” Dear also reportedly said: “Could you add the babies that were supposed to be aborted that day? Could you add that to the list?”
Dear was charged with 179 counts, including first-degree murder, in connection with the deadly Nov. 27 shooting at a Colorado Springs, Colorado, Planned Parenthood clinic. Three people were killed during the five-hour siege—Ke’Arre Stewart, Jennifer Markovsky, and Garrett Swasey, a University of Colorado police officer who had responded to the shooting.
Nine others, including five police officers, were wounded by gunfire. The injured officers have all been released from the hospital, according to Colorado Springs police.
In a statement on Wednesday, Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said that her organization was focusing on its recovery. “We continue to provide high-quality, compassionate health care in a safe, supportive environment,” she said. “Every day since this terrible tragedy, Planned Parenthood’s doors have been open across Colorado, across our Rocky Mountain region, and across this country.”
Added Cowart: “We know that words matter. It is time to put an end to the dangerous rhetoric that has permeated our political conversations. Enough is enough—his violence, whether inflicted with words or with weapons, cannot become our normal.”
Even as Dear’s own statements indicate a hatred of abortion and of Planned Parenthood specifically, Colorado Springs police have so far refused to discuss a possible motive for the shooting.
Planned Parenthood has been at the center of a national controversy following the release of several videos this summer, many of them surreptitiously filmed by anti-abortion activists. Referring to themselves the Center for Medical Progress, the activists charged Planned Parenthood officials with profiting from the illegal sale of fetal organs. The organization’s leadership has adamantly denied the allegation.
Republican lawmakers seized upon the widely discredited videos, however, to launch no less than a dozen state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood’s activities. While none of the investigations have unearthed anything criminal, congressional Republicans have also tried multiple times to remove federal funding from the women’s health clinics in the wake of the controversy.
Earlier this week, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press that Dear had stopped and asked someone at nearby shopping center for directions to the Planned Parenthood building. He had at least 10 firearms in his possession, the official said, rifles and handguns. It remains unclear whether Dear purchased all the guns himself, though, as the AP notes, there are no felony convictions on his record that would have prevented him from acquiring the arsenal.
Illustration by Max Fleishman