Robert Lewis Dear Jr., the man authorities say opened fire on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Friday, killing three people, led a reclusive life and preferred to interact with as few people as possible. But he rarely spoke about politics or abortion, and some of those who knew him best were stunned by news of his deadly rampage.
A glimpse into Dear’s life has begun to emerge as media contact Dear’s relatives and neighbors to learn more about the man accused of killing a college police officer and two civilians and wounding nine others during a five-hour siege at the clinic in Colorado Springs. Planned Parenthood said Sunday it believes Dear was acting on anti-abortion beliefs based on reports that he muttered “no more baby parts” while being taken into custody, an apparent reference to the controversy about the organizaton’s practice of supplying fetal tissue to researchers.
Pamela Ross, his ex-wife, told the New York Times Dear, 57, was a good father to their son, an avid hunter, a Baptist from birth and a considerate husband who would ask what she wanted to do each weekend. For a profession, he bought and sold artwork from artists in the South. She told the newspaper it "never ever, ever, ever crossed my mind” that Dear would commit such an act.
Dear was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, before eventually moving to Walterboro, South Carolina, where he lived with Ross. They divorced in 2000. He then moved to North Carolina and, later, to Colorado.
Ross called the police on Dear nearly 20 years ago, the New York Times reported, when he locked her out of the house and shoved her away when he tried to enter through a window. She did not press charges.
Neighbors who knew him before and after he left South Carolina told the Washington Post Dear occasionally showed signs of aggression and sometimes seemed confrontational.
One South Carolina woman reported finding him hiding in the bushes outside of her house at 5:30 a.m. and accused him of giving her unwelcome attention as a "Peeping Tom." His North Carolina neighbors told the newspaper he was known for driving too fast and letting his dogs roam free, much to their annoyance. One resident said everyone "kept an eye on him.”
Another neighbor who lived next to Dear in a different part of North Carolina said he kept to himself. Residents and staff at a cafe in Hartsel, Colorado, where Dear lived in a camper for the past year, told the Washington Post and NBC News he seemed no different from anyone else who likes to hunt and buys a rural plot of land.
"He was really strange and out there, but I never thought he would do any harm,” John Hood, Dear’s former neighbor in South Carolina, told the Associated Press.