Robert Dear Indicted By Federal Grand Jury For 2015 Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting
Three victims died, including a police officer – charges include possible death penalty
DENVER – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn and Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband announced today that a federal grand jury in Denver has returned a 68-count indictment charging Robert Lewis Dear, Jr., age 61, with crimes related to the November 27, 2015, shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs 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 November 27, 2015, Robert 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, twenty-seven 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.
“The dozens of victims of this heinous act, as well as the Colorado Springs community itself, deserve justice,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “After four years of lengthy delays in state court, and in consultation with the 4th Judicial District Attorney and victims, this office made the decision to charge Mr. Dear.”
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 a minimum of 10 years and 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.
This investigation was led by the Colorado Springs Police Department (“CSPD”) with the assistance of the FBI, ATF, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (“EPSO”), and the University of Colorado -- Colorado Springs Campus Police (“UCCS”). The state prosecution was handled by the District Attorney for the 4th Judicial District, Dan May.
Dear is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Pegeen Rhyne and Rajiv Mohan along with Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Mary Hahn. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Q&A Regarding Robert Dear Prosecution
Q: Why are the charges being filed now?
A: Given that the incident happened over 4 years ago, that the state case has failed to advance, the applicable 5 year statute of limitations under the FACE Act, and in consideration of the views of both the 4th Judicial District Attorney and victims, the decision was made to file charges now.
Q: Why has this case not yet gone to trial at the state level?
A: Since May of 2016, Dear has been deemed incompetent by the state District Court in El Paso County to decide whether he can represent himself, as he has requested.
Q: Where will Dear be held in federal custody?
A: Assuming that he is detained following his detention hearing, the U.S. Marshals will make that determination.
Q: Where was Dear being held prior to this?
A: He was being held at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.
Q: How was he transferred into federal custody?
A: Federal agents took custody of Dear at the CMHIP on Dec. 9th and drove him to Denver, where he appeared in federal court.
Q: Why do the charges not include homicide, as was charged by the state?
A: Federal law does not have an applicable homicide offense.
Q: When were the victims informed that the DOJ was taking over the case?
A: They were told after Dear was arrested and before he made his initial appearance. A victim’s advocate in the USA’s office is in touch with them.
Q: What is happening to the state charges?
A: The state charges remain pending.