Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband and U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn for the District of Colorado announced today that a federal grand jury in Denver has returned a 68-count indictment charging Robert Lewis Dear Jr., 61, with crimes related to the Nov. 27, 2015, shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where three people died, including a police officer. Eight others were wounded, including four police officers. Dear was taken into federal custody early this morning at the State Mental Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado. The defendant is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang in Denver at 2:00 p.m. for an initial appearance, where he will be advised of his rights and the charges pending against him.
According to facts contained in the indictment, on Nov. 27, 2015, Dear traveled to the Planned Parenthood clinic intending to wage “war” because the clinic offered abortion services. Dear had with him four SKS rifles, five handguns, two additional rifles, a shotgun, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, as well as propane tanks. Dear first shot at people parked next to his truck, killing one and seriously injuring the other two. He then repeatedly shot at three additional people who were in various locations in front of the clinic, killing one and injuring another.
Dear then forced his way into the clinic by shooting through a door to the side of the main entrance. At the time, 27 healthcare providers, employees, patients, and companions were in the clinic and hid in various rooms until they were rescued by law enforcement. During his attack, Dear shot one of these civilians when a bullet he fired went through the wall and into the room where the individual was hiding.
After forcing his way into the clinic, Dear engaged in an approximately five-hour standoff with officials from several law enforcement and public safety agencies, including the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD), El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO), University of Colorado — Colorado Springs Campus Police (UCCS), and the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Dear repeatedly shot at the firefighters and law enforcement officers, killing one officer and injuring four more.
The defendant fired approximately 198 bullets during the attack. Dear also placed a propane tank in the parking lot and when a law enforcement tactical vehicle was near the propane tank, Dear shot the tank in an attempt to create an explosion.
Dear was ultimately arrested and was subsequently charged in state court with first-degree murder. Subsequent court-ordered mental competency evaluations determined Dear was not competent to proceed at the time of those evaluations. He has remained in a state mental hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, since then.
Dear faces 65 counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (the FACE Act — 18 USC 248(a)(1) and (b)) and three counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death where the killing is a murder. If convicted, Dear faces a maximum penalty up to and including death. In the absence of death, he faces up to life imprisonment.
No decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty in this case. The department will follow the usual rigorous protocol to thoroughly consider all factual and legal issues relevant to that decision, which will necessarily involve consultation with the counsel for the defendant. In addition, consultation with the victims’ families is an important part of this decision making process and no decision will be made before conferring with them.