UPDATE, November 27, 9:05 p.m.: Local law enforcement apprehended the active shooter on Friday evening, according to multiple news sources. While the circumstances behind the shooting and the identity of the individual in custody remain unknown, media organizations are reporting at least two fatalities, including one civilian and one police officer, and 11 injured. “This has been a tragic day, a very, very tragic day,” said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Chris Reilly during a news conference.
A gunman in the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs fired at passing vehicles Friday afternoon, injuring “multiple civilians” and at least three police officers responding to the shooting, local media reported.
Officials at the scene could not confirm whether Planned Parenthood was the target of the active shooting, and as of publication time, the shooter was still at large.
Witnesses near the facility told the Denver Post that officers had their guns drawn, facing the Planned Parenthood building after the parking lot incident. Some outlets reported that the perpetrator was inside the facility.
An employee of a nearby business told the Washington Post that police officers had told her to stay inside the store and away from the windows.
The Colorado Springs shooting marks the latest episode of violence involving Planned Parenthood facilities following the release of smear videos produced by an anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).
Kentucky’s last abortion clinic has been vandalized twice this fall. The Planned Parenthood health center in Pullman, Washington, was set ablaze in September. The fire caused extensive damage and was expected to keep the facility closed for at least a month.
At an anti-choice protest at the Pullman Planned Parenthood in August, a Washington state GOP lawmaker called Planned Parenthood an “evil organization,” and said the services provided there are comparable to the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany.
CMP, which has deep ties to radical and violent elements of the anti-choice movement, worked with Republican legislators on the state and federal levels in the release of surreptitiously recorded, heavily edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. State investigations—all launched by GOP lawmakers—have shown that the reproductive health-care organization has not violated any laws.
A Southern California Planned Parenthood facility in early October was set on fire in an apparent arson incident in which no one was injured. U.S. Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in a statement connected the attack on the facility to the political attacks on Planned Parenthood by anti-choice activists and lawmakers.
“The toxic rhetoric directed at Planned Parenthood has dangerous consequences,” Feinstein said. “It sends a signal that using violence to close clinics and intimidate health care professionals and women is ‘OK.’ It is not. … Unfortunately, there is a long history of violence against women’s health care clinics.”
In response to the shooting, Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains CEO Vicki Cowart told ThinkProgress in a statement: “We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.”