Police: Shootout with gunman at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs

(CNN)Police were in a shootout with a gunman inside a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Friday afternoon, hours after a shooter was first reported in the area.

“The officers inside the building have encountered the individual. As of about a minute ago, they were exchanging gunfire with him,” Lt. Catherine Buckley told reporters around 2:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. ET).

At least four officers were injured in the shooting, she said. Local hospital officials said at least nine people were taken to medical facilities in the area. Details about their injuries were not immediately available.

The shooting, which was first reported around 11:30 a.m. (1:30 p.m. ET), also left a nearby shopping center on lockdown as police searched for the gunman.

“We don’t have the suspect yet and we do consider this still an active situation,” Buckley told reporters earlier Friday. There could be hostages and there could be an additional shooter at large, she said.

“There are a lot of possibilities with this scenario,” she said. “As I said, it is very active and we are working our way through it.”

FBI teams were among those responding to the scene, agency spokeswoman Deborah Sherman said.

It was not immediately clear whether Planned Parenthood was the target of the shooting.

Police said the original 911 call reporting the gunman came from the building.

One Planned Parenthood official said the motive behind the attack was unknown, but pointed to what she called a “poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism” as a possible cause.

“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,” Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a written statement. “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.”

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Witness: Police swarmed area

Denise Speller, who works at a nearby salon, said she heard at least 10 gunshots go off and saw a police officer get hit.

“It was terrifying,” she said, adding that it was unclear exactly where the shots were coming from.

Brigitte Wolfe, who said she works in the area of shooting, told CNN that she saw about five officers behind a building with their guns drawn, as well as about three SWAT vehicles and roughly seven police cars from her vantage point in a strip mall that’s across the street from the Planned Parenthood. A grocery store and bank are nearby, Wolfe noted.

Photos taken by Kody Fisher, a reporter with CNN affiliate KXRM, showed an ambulance and, in another picture. at least two police officers crouched behind a patrol car an ambulance at one intersection.
Photos taken by Kody Fisher, a reporter with CNN affiliate KXRM, showed an ambulance and, in another picture. at least two police officers crouched behind a patrol car an ambulance at one intersection.
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Colorado Springs police tweeted that the shooting took place on Centennial Boulevard. A newspaper in the city, The Gazette, reported that traffic was shut down in both directions on that road and that customers were told to stay put in a nearby grocery store and shops.

That sentiment was echoed by Colorado Springs police, who warned around 12:20 p.m. (2:20 p.m. ET) that the area was “not secure” that those in a nearby shopping center should “shelter in place.”

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At a grocery store in the shopping center, an intercom announcement told shoppers not to leave.

The city, in the central part of the Colorado, has more than 400,000 residents.

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Planned Parenthood: ‘This is a developing situation’

Officials released few details as the shooting unfolded, saying their focus was getting the situation under control.

“At this time, our concern is for the safety of our patients, staff and law enforcement,” Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said in a written statement. “This is a developing situation, and we’ll continue to share updates as we have them.”

Planned Parenthood is a national health care provider that delivers reproductive health care and sex education to women and men throughout the United States. The organization runs nearly 700 health centers throughout the United States, according to its website.

The group says each year 2.7 million people in the United States visit its health centers for health care services and information.

 

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