3 shot dead at US family planning center

Saturday, Nov 28, 2015,10:12 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Colorado Springs (US) | Three people, including a police officer, were killed and nine othersĀ  wounded when a gunman opened fire at a family planning center in Colorado Springs in a standoff that dragged on for five hours before he surrendered.

The shooting at the Planned Parenthood building began at around 11:30 a.m. Friday, when people scrambled into a safe room in a desperate bid to save themselves.

The slain officer has been identified as Garrett Swasey, a 44 year old police officer at University of Colorado, while the identity of the 2 civilians is unknown.

Swasey was on the campus of University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, about 10 miles away, when the shooting broke out. He responded in support of Colorado Springs Police to the active shooter situation, university chancellor Pam Shockley Zalabak said in a statement.

A large area of snow-covered Colorado Springs was placed on lockdown after the latest incident of the United States’ gun culture.

Earlier, there had been fears that the unidentified gunman might have explosives with him, and police were carefully combing the scene after the siege came to an end when he surrendered. Speaking at the scene before the standoff ended, police spokeswoman Lieutenant Catherine Buckley warned that the gunman had taken items and bags inside the building with him. An unknown number of people were inside the clinic at the time of the shooting, on what had been a regular working day at Planned Parenthood, a day after Thanksgiving. A sheriff’s department SWAT team with at least one armored vehicle and several ambulances had also been on standby, as the evening drew in on the snowy scene. The immediate vicinity was placed on lockdown and people were told to stay indoors. Buckley said the shooter was armed with some kind of long weapon with a shoulder stock such as a rifle and some witnesses reported hearing automatic fire.

City Mayor John Suthers said five police officials were among the wounded. None of the injured were in a serious condition. He paid tribute to police for getting the gunman into custody without further bloodshed at the Planned Parenthood building. It was not immediately clear if the Planned Parenthood family planning center had been specifically targeted, Suthers told reporters.

Abortion is one of the services Planned Parenthood provides for women, and the organization has become a lightning rod for criticism by social conservatives. The women’s health care giant has also been mired in a months-long scandal after anti-abortion activists released secretly recorded videos showing the organization’s officials discussing use of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.