Montgomery County police are searching for a man who fired several shots into the third-story window of a Kensington women's health clinic Thursday night. The clinic has been the site of antiabortion rallies since opening in 1985.
According to police, a witness saw a man with a handgun fire several shots from the parking lot below Cygma Health Center, in the Barker, Riddle Building at the corner of University Boulevard and Farragut Avenue. Two clinic windows and a stairwell window were struck.
The building has other tenants, but their windows were not struck, leading police to believe that the clinic was intentionally attacked.
Officer George Ludington said police are looking for a man who was wearing a two-toned baseball cap and last seen driving away in a "white, luxury-type automobile."
Jason Ingram, 12, said he and his mother were driving past the clinic when he heard a sound "like a loud popped tire."
"I saw a guy holding up a gun and standing under the windows," he said. Ingram said he cannot recall the gunman's face. "I was kind of scared because this guy was actually in our neighborhood shooting windows," Ingram said.
The gunfire occurred about 8:15 p.m., and the office building was empty. Police said they found six bullet casings at the scene and believe they were from a .44 magnum pistol.
Last December, 240 antiabortion activists demonstrated outside the clinic. There were no arrests.
Alice Kirkman, public affairs director of the National Abortion Federation, a Washington-based abortion-rights group, said U.S. abortion clinics reported being vandalized 24 times in 1989 and seven times this year, as of this June 1.
"We've been concerned about incidences of violence and harassment since 1977," Kirkman said. "Unfortunately, they have become so commonplace that clinics don't report."
Antiabortion activist John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe, founder of the Pro-Life Non-Violent Action Project, which is based in Gaithersburg, has organized many protests at Cygma Health Center. However, he said his group was not involved in Thursday's gunfire.
"We've worked very hard to develop a non-violent campaign," he said. "Shooting through a window is not part of that campaign."