Who was Robert Lewis Dear, the 57-year-old suspect in yesterday’s Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs, which claimed the lives of one University of Colorado–Colorado Springs police officer and two civilians?
According to police records supplied to The Daily Beast by Lt. Shane Roberts, the public information officer for the Colleton County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina, Dear was a longtime resident of the county with a lengthy history of incident reports.
Roberts could not confirm that Dear still lived in the county, and was unable to provide the outcome of individual incidents, but he did confirm that the alleged gunman has been arrested twice before, once in June 2002 for “peeping tom” charges, and once in January 2003 for animal cruelty. As The Daily Beast reported, Dear was found not guilty on the animal cruelty charge, and the peeping tom charges were dismissed.
Colleton County’s police records reveal Dear’s history of disputes with relatives and neighbors. In June 1997, police responded to a domestic violence call from Dear’s then-wife, Pam, who told police, per the incident report, that he “took her keys from her and locked her out of their residence.” “The victim then walked around the residence to gain entry through a window,” the report reads. “The victim entered the residence and the suspect then hit her and pushed her out the window.” Pam Dear did not file any charges but “wanted something on record of this incident occurring.” Police noted the “apparent bruises” on her body, which she says she sustained after Robert Dear pushed her in the chest.
In September 2004, a neighbor named Douglas Moore reported to police that Dear had threatened him. According to the police report, Moore said that Dear “told him that he was going to do bodily harm to him because the suspect thought the victim pushed his motorcycle over on the ground.” “This is [an] ongoing problem between the victim and the suspect,” the report notes.
According to incident reports, Dear called police several times with regards to alleged property damage, claiming in 2004 that “three juveniles” broke a water pipe from his well to his home and, that same year, that “some juveniles” from his son’s school may have turned over his bike.
The police records also shed new light on Dear’s animal cruelty and “peeping tom” charges. In June 2002, Lynn Roberts and her husband reported that Dear, then their next-door neighbor, “had been making unwanted advancements to the victim [Roberts].”“Since March 2002, he has been leering at Ms. Roberts on a regular basis,” the report reads, citing Roberts. “Memorial day weekend last year, 2001, was the first time that the Roberts noticed Mr. Dear in the bushes by their house.”In May of 2002, their guard dog allegedly found Dear peering into her house. When the dog frightened Dear, Roberts said, he returned to his own house. Police advised Roberts of her legal options, and she took full advantage of them. According to Colleton County court records reviewed by The Daily Beast, she obtained a restraining order against Dear in July 2002.
The animal cruelty incident came later that year. In November 2002, two deputies responded to reports of a dog being shot near Dear’s address. The dog belonged to Moore, who two years later would report Dear’s alleged threats of bodily harm. According to the police report, “his dog was walking down the driveway when a shot was fired from [a] residence next to his and Douglas’s dog yelped out and ran over to him.” The dog had been shot with a pellet gun, and survived. Dear told police that he did not shoot the dog but also said, “Douglas was lucky that it was only a pellet that hit the dog and not a bigger round.”
In some police reports, Dear’s occupation is listed as a “self-employed art dealer.” The final report from South Carolina provided to The Daily Beast was dated April 2007.According to the Associated Press, Dear more recently lived in North Carolina, spending part of his time in a cabin in Black Mountain and the remainder in a house in nearby Swannanoa. The Colorado Springs Police Department has also closed off another address for the alleged shooter in the remote town of Hartsel, Colorado, under 70 miles from Colorado Springs.
Reached by phone Saturday morning, Colorado Springs Police Department told The Daily Beast that charges against Dear in the Planned Parenthood shooting could take days, given the timing of the investigation. The CSPD has no information on his motive at this time.Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers has declined to discuss motive but said that people can make “inferences from where it took place.” Per AP’s report, Suthers said that Dear has been interviewed by investigators, but they are still gathering information.
Ozy Licano, a survivor of the shooting, described a harrowing encounter with Dear as he fled the scene in his car.“He came out, and we looked each other in the eye, and he started aiming, and then he started shooting,” he told AP. “I saw two holes go right through my windshield as I was trying to quickly back up and he just kept shooting and I started bleeding.”
“He was aiming for my head. It’s just weird to stare in the face of someone like that. And he didn’t win.”