The man accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado shouted that he was guilty and proclaimed, “I’m a warrior for the babies” during a court appearance Wednesday.
Robert Lewis Dear’s possible motives were not just a criminal matter but a source of instant political debate after the Nov. 27 shooting and standoff with police at the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs.
Some Planned Parenthood leaders and supporters openly wondered whether the shooting was an act of antiabortion terrorism possibly inspired by a recent surge of criticism of Planned Parenthood among conservatives. Investigators have not publicly confirmed a motive.
Dear’s outburst came at a Wednesday hearing in which prosecutors charged him with 179 crimes related to the shooting, including first-degree and attempted first-degree murder charges, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
“I am guilty; there’s no trial. I am a warrior for the babies,” Dear said during the hearing, according to the Denver Post, adding, “Protect the babies!”
When Dear’s attorneys and the judge discussed who would be included on a gag order that would prohibit discussion of the pending case, Dear interjected again, “The babies that were supposed to be aborted that day, could you add them to that list?”
Public defender Dan King -- who was one of the attorneys who defended the 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater gunman, James Holmes -- asked an El Paso County judge for quick discovery in the case to evaluate “the depth of Mr. Dear’s mental illness,” the Post reported.
The newspaper also reported that Dear announced he was competent and told King, “You’re not my lawyer.”
Representatives for the Colorado state public defender’s office and the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on the hearing.
Three people were killed in the shooting: University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Officer Garrett Swasey, 44, Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, and Jennifer Markovsky, 35. Five police officers were among the nine people wounded in the incident.
After news of Dear’s outburst spread Wednesday, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens tweeted, “Let’s be clear: Violent rhetoric can lead to violent actions,” apparently repeating the group’s earlier statements tying the shooting to criticism of Planned Parenthood by conservative lawmakers and presidential candidates.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards added, “Words matter.”
The Gazette reported that Dear was due back in court on Dec. 23.