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A suspected gunman is taken into custody outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Nov. 27, 2015.
Justin Edmonds / Getty Images
'This is not normal': Obama gives statement on Planned Parenthood shooting
Shooter identified as Robert L. Dear, 57, as an eyewitness recounts his encounter with the gunman
November 27, 20152:30PM ETUpdated November 28, 2015 9:30AM ET
In the wake of a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, President Obama on Saturday urged the country to guard against becoming used to such gun violence.
“This is not normal,” Obama said in a statement. “We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”
Authorities identified a North Carolina man, Robert L. Dear, 57, as the gunman who killed three — including a university police officer — and injured nine others. He was taken into custody nearly five hours after the siege began at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday afternoon. Jail booking records indicate he is to appear in court on Monday.
No other details about Dear were immediately available.
"We don't have any information on this individual's mentality, or his ideas or ideology," Colorado Springs police Lt. Catherine Buckley told reporters.
Planned Parenthood said all of its staff at the clinic was safe. The organization said it did not know the circumstances or motives behind the attack or whether the organization was the target.
The University of Colorado in Colorado Springs police department identified the officer killed as 44-year-old Garrett Swasey, a six-year veteran of the force. He was married and had a son and daughter, according to the website of his church, Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs.
There were no immediate details about the two civilians killed in the attack. Five officers and four others were hospitalized in good condition, authorities said.
"Certainly it could have been much, much worse if it were not for the heroism of our police officers to corner the person in the building," Colorado Springs Fire Chief Chris Riley said.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene when the shooting first started just before noon.
Ozy Licano was in the parking lot of the two-story Planned Parenthood building when he saw someone crawling toward the clinic's door. He tried to escape in his car when the gunman looked at him.
"He came out, and we looked each other in the eye, and he started aiming, and then he started shooting," Licano said. "I saw two holes go right through my windshield as I was trying to quickly back up and he just kept shooting and I started bleeding."
Licano drove away and took refuge at a nearby grocery store.
"He was aiming for my head," he said of the gunman. "It's just weird to stare in the face of someone like that. And he didn't win."
Inside the clinic, terrified patients and staff hid wherever they could find cover. Jennifer Motolinia ducked under a table and called her brother, Joan, to leave him final instructions for the care of her three children in case the gunman found her.
Joan Motolinia said he could hear gunshots in the background as his sister spoke. "She was telling me to take care of her babies because she could get killed," he said.
For others, the first sign that something was wrong was when police officers appeared and ushered people to the building's second floor. Planned Parenthood employee Cynthia Garcia told her mother, Tina Garcia, that the officers wouldn't say why they were gathering everybody together — then she heard the gunshots.
Her daughter and the others were holed up there for hours while the standoff continued, Tina Garcia said.
Some people managed to escape the building and flee to a nearby bank. An armored vehicle was seen taking evacuees away from the clinic to ambulances waiting nearby.
After the suspect surrendered to police, authorities swept the building and turned their attention to inspecting unspecified items the gunman left outside the building and carried inside in bags. They were concerned that he had planted improvised explosive devices meant to cause even more destruction. As of late Friday, police did not say what was found.
The Colorado Springs clinic has been the target of repeated protests by anti-abortion activists, and in recent years moved to new quarters on the city's northwest side — a facility derided as a "fortress" by critics of Planned Parenthood.
The national organization has also come under renewed pressure in recent months from conservatives in Congress seeking to cut off federal financial support for its operations.
Planned Parenthood released a statement Friday night.
"We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don't yet know if Planned Parenthood was, in fact, the target of this attack,” said Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains President and Chief Executive Officer Vicky Cowart. “We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust."