A gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, shooting at police from within the building during a five-hour standoff that ended with his surrender.
Three people, including a police officer, were killed, Colorado Springs Police Department Lt. Catherine Buckley said.
The suspect was identified as Robert Dear, 57, by three law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.
Nine others, including five Colorado Springs police officers, were shot and wounded. All nine were in good condition at area hospitals, Buckley said.
All of the clinic’s staff members were “safe and accounted for,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement.
“All I can say is my heart’s broken,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey said Friday night after visiting with the wounded. “This is a really, really tough situation for a lot of people in our community, and the community at large.”
The gunshots were first reported near the Planned Parenthood facility on Centennial Boulevard at around 11:38 a.m. The gunman began shooting in the parking lot and then entered the building, a law enforcement official told NBC News.
The shooting and standoff unfolded during a regular working day at the facility, with patients waiting for appointments and staff members attending to them, Buckley said.
Several escaped during the ordeal, thanks in part to police personnel who rammed the side of the building with a truck, officials told NBC News.
Police officers who responded were fired upon, and the gunman fired at police at various times during the ensuing standoff, police said. Officers described being “pinned down” by the gunfire.
The gunman walked out of the facility just before 5 p.m. local time and officers took him into custody, officials told NBC News.
At one point, the gunman, armed with an AK-47-style weapon, was surrounded in the lobby, according to a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the situation.
Authorities tapped into the building’s video surveillance system, and were able to monitor the gunman’s movements, officials said.
Police were still clearing the building Friday night to make sure several unidentified items that the gunman brought with him are not dangerous, police said.
Investigators were also trying identify an item left in what is believed to be the suspect’s car, a law enforcement source said. The device appears to be a propane tank with wires sticking out, the source said. It was not immediately clear if it was a hoax device.
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs police officer who was killed was identified as Garrett Swasey, 44. University Chancellor Pam Shockley Zalabak said he was responding in support of city police to the active shooter situation when he was killed.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said “we mourn the loss of a very brave police officer.”
“While this was a terrible, terrible tragedy, it could have been much worse but for the actions of the first responders, particularly the police officers involved,” Suthers told reporters.
“They were able to get people out of the building safely, and they were able to make sure that the perpetrator was isolated in a place where there could be communication back and forth about where he was,” Suthers said. “I’m absolutely certain that the result of that was that some people that otherwise would have been victimized were able to get out of that building safely.”
A woman who identified herself only as Kentanya said she was inside the clinic when the man began shooting.
“I heard everyone in the lobby screaming ‘Get down! Get down!’ and then I saw a gunman walking with a shotgun just shooting randomly outside of Planned Parenthood,” she said.
The gunman “seemed calm, but crazy,” Kentanya said, describing the man in a hunter’s jacket and hat as “mumbling and ranting while he was shooting.”
She said she ran into an open room with two others where they barricaded themselves inside for about five hours as they heard shots ring out.
Joan Motolinia said his sister was in the clinic when gunshots were heard. “She called me and she was telling me that there was a shooting — I heard the shooting,” he said. “She couldn’t say too much because she was afraid.”
“She was telling me she was hiding under a table,” Motolinia said. He said he heard more shots over the phone, and his sister hung up.
Caren Kesterson was working at a nearby Supercuts hair salon when two police cars sped past.
“We got up and we looked outside, and it was like almost immediately we heard gunshots — easily over 20,” Kesterson told MSNBC by telephone.
Three police officers were shot in the initial encounters with the gunman, Buckley said, and a fourth officer was shot around two hours later. It is unclear when the fifth officer was hit.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a statement to victims families shortly after the fatalities were announced: “Our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those who were killed, including UCCS Officer Garrett Swasey, and those who were injured,” he said.
“Our thoughts continue to be with law enforcement, the Colorado Springs community, and the staff and patients at Planned Parenthood.”
A White House official said President Barack Obama was notified about the situation.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a Tweet that “Today and every day, we #StandWithPP”, referring to Planned Parenthood.
Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said Friday that “we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack.”
But she vowed in a statement: “We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.”
Cecile Richards, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, thanked law enforcement in a statement released Friday.
“Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the brave law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm’s way in Colorado Springs,” she said. “We are profoundly grateful for their heroism in helping to protect all women, men and young people as they access basic health care in this country.”