Three police officers and an “unknown number of civilians” have been injured in an active shooter situation near a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, authorities said.
The situation remained “very active” roughly two hours after it began, police said.
Though Lt. Kirk Wilson, a Colorado Springs police spokesman, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that the shooter had been “contained,” a different police spokesperson, Lt. Catherine Buckley, said it was “very much an active situation.”
“We can’t confirm where the shooter is at at this point,” Buckley told reporters.
The department’s public affairs division said on social media that the situation was “still not stable.”
Asked if the shooter could have taken hostages, Buckley said, “There is that possibility,” news services reported.
“At this time, our concern is for the safety of our patients, staff and law enforcement,” said Vicki Cowart, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain.
Erin Emery, spokeswoman for UCHealth Memorial Hospital, said the hospital received three patients who were injured in the incident. Their conditions were not known.
Colorado Springs police said an active shooter was reported at 11:38 a.m. Mountain time. The first 911 call, police said, came from the Planned Parenthood health center on Centennial Boulevard.
Sydney Downey, 20, who works at Sally Beauty Supply nearby, told The Washington Post that people inside the store began to hear gunshots at about 11:45 a.m.
“A lot of gunshots,” Downey said, “like too many to even count.”
She added: “Now police are running up and down Centennial.”
Downey said police and firefighters swarmed Centennial Boulevard and crowded around a nearby bank.
An officer came by the beauty supply store to make sure the doors were locked and that those inside were safe, she said.
“He said, ‘Get back away from the windows’ and left, and that was it,” Downey said.
Since then, Downey said, she has been huddled in a back room with the store manager and a customer.
The incident comes as Planned Parenthood is facing unprecedented scrutiny following an undercover sting operation mounted by a little-known group, the Center for Medical Progress. The anti-abortion organization spent 30 months infiltrating Planned Parenthood clinics and gatherings in an effort to produce evidence that the women’s health nonprofit was selling tissue leftover from abortions, which is against federal law.
Planned Parenthood has called the videos deceptively edited, and said emphatically that it has not violated any laws.
Among the clinics targeted as part of the video project was one in Denver.
Though the videos do not prove that Planned Parenthood violated any laws, the frank and at times lighthearted discussions captured by the anti-abortion activists provided fodder for opponents of the procedure on Capitol Hill, who have mounted multiple investigations into the organization’s practices.
Some Republican governors have attempted to cut off Medicaid and grants to the group.
Abortion-rights advocates say the videos have led to a spike in threats against abortion providers, particularly Planned Parenthood; at least four affiliates have been targeted in arson attacks since the videos emerged.
ATF special agents were among those who responded to the scene in Colorado Springs. Deborah Sherman of the FBI’s Denver field office said local authorities had not yet requested the agency’s assistance.
Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report, which has been updated.