The police officer who was killed during Friday’s shooting standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs has been identified as Garrett Swasey, 44, a co-pastor at his church and an ice-skating champion.
Swasey, who was married and had two young children, had been with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police department for six years and responded to the initial reports of an active shooter.
Authorities said a suspect was taken into police custody after the hours-long shooting standoff at the clinic where Swasey and two civilians were killed. Police were trying to determine the suspect’s motive after his capture. At least four other police officers and five civilians were injured.
In a statement released by the White House on Saturday, President Obama praised the slain officer: “May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.”
Swasey was part of the leadership at his non-denominational, evangelical church that is overseen by a group of elders or co-pastors, as opposed to one specific pastor. Swasey was part of what the church calls the “teaching team” and played guitar on the worship team, his bio states.
Swasey and his wife, Rachel, began attending Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs in 2001, according to a brief bio of him on the church’s Web site.
“As they raise their son, Elijah and daughter, Faith, they view the members of the church as their family,” the bio states. “Both have been granted a servant’s heart by God, and are a demonstrative evidence of God’s grace to Hope Chapel.”
“Here’s a guy who worked full time as a police officer, and then gave a great amount of time to his local church and didn’t get a dime for it,” Scott Dontanville, a co-pastor who knew Swasey for 15 years, told the New York Times.
Dontanville told the Times that Swasey would “disagree with the abortion industry,” but “I don’t think that was on his mind.”
“He was there to save lives,” he said. “That’s the kind of guy he is.”
Swasey and his ice-skating partner Christine Fowler won the junior national ice-skating championship in 1992, according to the Denver Post. He and partner Hillary Tompkins finished 13th in the 1995 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and performed in ice shows in Maine.
Kurt Aichele, another co-pastor at Swasey’s church, told the Times that Swasey moved to Colorado Springs years ago to train for ice skating. He said that Swasey’s wife broke the news of his death to their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.