Robert Dear Jr. had a hero, Paul Hill, the murderous leader of an antiabortion group. He also had his enemies: President Obama, for one, whom Dear refers to as the “antichrist,” and Planned Parenthood, for another.
And he had a dream: “When he died and went to heaven, he would be met by all the aborted fetuses at the gates of heaven and they would thank him … for what he did because his actions saved lives of other unborn fetuses.”
This according to newly released court documents detailing what Dear would later tell police in Colorado Springs. As the Associated Press reported: “The documents were unsealed Monday after The Associated Press and other news outlets petitioned the state’s highest court for their release. Judge Gilbert Martinez initially refused to make them public, saying the media do not have a First Amendment right to access court documents, which prompted the months long court fight over records that are routinely released in criminal cases. They include Dear’s arrest warrant and warrants to search Dear’s pickup truck, computer, emails and tumbledown trailer in rural Hartsel, Colorado.”
Until Nov. 27, all Dear had accomplished toward his dream, he told police, was to show up at an abortion clinic in South Carolina and place superglue in all the door locks at the clinic, “so they could not get into the building.” That way, at least, he would have “at least stopped any abortions from occurring” on that particular day and at that particular clinic.
But in late November, Dear put on a makeshift metal vest, made of coins and duct tape, according to the documents, armed himself with four SKS rifles and two propane tanks, and shot up the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three people, including Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, an Iraq War veteran who had been outside the clinic on his cellphone; Jennifer Tarkovsky, 35, a mother of two who had been at the clinic to support a friend; and Garret Swasey, a University of Colorado police officer who had responded to the incident.
After a five-hour standoff, police took into custody Robert Lewis Dear Jr., a malcontent and drifter who allegedly muttered to law enforcement about “no more baby parts” during his arrest.
He was charged with 179 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes connected to the shooting, but his attorneys have questioned whether he is competent to stand trial. Dear has undergone a mental evaluation, the results of which have not yet been made public.
The documents unsealed Monday, however, give a telling glimpse into Dear’s psyche.
In an interview with detectives after the standoff, Dear told police that he had four additional guns in his pickup truck. He also said he had vainly shot at the propane tanks in the hopes they would explode. He actually did shoot at them but they did not blow up.
Dear recited Bible verses throughout the conversation and said he was “happy because his actions … ensured that no more abortions would be conducted at the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs.”
At a December hearing, he announced, “I am guilty,” calling himself a “warrior for the babies.” In a 2009 email to his son, according to the documents, Dear had likewise shared a website featuring “heroes who stood up for the unborn.”
Ultimately, Dear told police he was “upset with [Planned Parenthood] performing abortions and the selling of baby parts.”
The remark likely refers to undercover video released by the Center for Medical Progress, an antiabortion group, last July. The footage showed Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola, telling two antiabortion activists disguised as biotech employees about the process of preserving aborted fetal organs for research.
The Center for Medical Progress claimed that the video proved Planned Parenthood was illegally making profits off fetal organ sales. The organization said the video misrepresents its work and has denied that it makes any money off donated fetal tissue. Twelve states and three congressional committees that investigated the matter found no wrongdoing.
Dear, meanwhile, was determined to emulate Hill, a Presbyterian minister and vocal antiabortion protester who opened fire outside an abortion clinic in 1994. He shot and killed John Bayard Britton, a 69-year-old physician who worked at the clinic, and the doctor’s escort, retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Herman Barrett.
According to the documents, Dear said Hill “was somebody he thought very highly of.” He previously posted messages to Hill’s website and other online forums espousing his antiabortion and anti-government views.
Hill was executed in 2003, but a page in his name can be found on the domain of the “Army of God,” a Christian antiabortion organization.
A quote from Hill atop the page affirms from whom Dear derived his dogma: “In an effort to suppress this truth, you may mix my blood with the blood of the unborn.”
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