A shooting at a family planning clinic in Colorado Springs has left two civilians and a police officer dead, with the suspected gunman under arrest.
A further nine people were injured in the incident at the Planned Parenthood clinic, which lasted five hours before the suspect finally surrendered.
Several people were trapped inside the premises as shots were exchanged between police and the suspect. His motives remain unclear at this time, but the Planned Parenthood group has been the subject of a number of anti-abortion protests in the past.
A police source identified the suspect as Robert Lewis Dear, from North Carolina. But there are no further details about him at this time.
Speaking at a news conference, Mayor John Suthers said: “I want to convey to the loved ones of the victims, this is a terrible, terrible tragedy that occurred here in Colorado Springs today. Obviously, we lost two civilian victims. We mourn the loss of a very brave police officer.”
The dead police officer was named as Garrett Swasey, 44, who leaves behind a wife and two children. Colarado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey confirmed that a further five police officers were amongst the injures and are now being treated in local hospitals.
The manager of a nearby hair salon, Denise Speller, told a local newspaper how she heard as many as 20 gunshots in under five minutes and saw one police officer fall to the ground and the other attempted to get the wounded officer behind their vehicle. Police had warned shoppers at a nearby centre to stay indoors.
In a statement Planned Parenthood confirmed that they were still uncertain whether the organisation was under attack and their CEO, Vicki Cowart said: “Our concern is for the safety of our patients, staff and law enforcement.”
Planned Parenthood has been the subject of a number of protests recently after a anti-abortion group secretly recorded an official discuss how to get hold of aborted foetal tissue for medical research purposes.
Pro-life supporters say this undoubtedly proves that Planned Parenthood is selling aborted foetuses for profit – which is illegal – but the organisation denies these claims.
New York’s city police have now deployed vehicles to Planned Parenthood sites because of the incident, but stated there is no threat to the city.