Authorities still don’t know why Robert Lewis Dear decided to take a break from what sounds like a loner life to pick up a weapon and open fire at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. But the four words he uttered after his arrest seem to pretty clearly suggest to anti-abortion sentiment for his attacks. The 57-year-old told police “no more baby parts” after his arrest, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. Planned Parenthood also says witnesses claim the gunman was motivated by abortion.
The words “baby parts” seems to be a clear reference to widely discredited undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group that claimed to show how Planned Parenthood profited from selling fetal organs. The group behind the videos, the Center for Medical Progress, condemned the “barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman.”
Three people were killed in the shootout but it now seems the tragedy could have been much worse. Police found propane tanks outside Dear’s car, leading investigators to believe his plan was to shoot at them from the clinic to spark an explosion.
Dear has been cooperating with authorities. But sources tell CBS News that Dear “has been behaving erratically” during questioning. That hardly comes as a surprise considering that those who knew him say he was someone who barely spoke to others, and when he did often uttered words that didn’t make much sense. He had been in trouble with the law before and was arrested for domestic violence, animal cruelty, and being a peeping tom. His ex-wife in South Carolina once called the police, claiming Dear had assaulted her and locked her out of her house. “I know everyone has a lot of questions,” Pamela Ross, who divorced Dear in 2000, told the Charleston Post and Courier. “We all do. … We’re living it just as everyone else is.”
People who knew him say even though Dear was barely talked to others, he sometimes got into arguments with neighbors. He lived with a woman in a remote trailer park without running water or electricity. “It looks like white-trash living at its finest—like a bomb went off and everything was thrown in the air,” his neighbor, Zigmond Post, tells the Denver Post.
He also spent time in a shack in the woods, and whenever he went to stay there his neighbors decided to keep their kids indoors. “He was the kind of person you had to watch out for,” one neighbor tells the Washington Post. “He was a very weird individual. It’s hard to explain, but he had a weird look in his eye most of the time.” Another neighbor said that Dear once asked him to do work on his property but he was so scared after the brief interaction that he refused the job. “I wouldn’t ride with that fellow from here to the mailbox now,” he told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “I was just thankful to get home.”