Robert L. Dear

Robert L. Dear is seen in an undated picture released by the Colorado Springs Police Department November 28, 2015. Dear, 57, has been named as the gunman who stormed a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday, killing three people and wounding nine others before surrendering to police.

Credit:

Reuters

Police have named the suspect who walked into a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado on Friday, killing three people and wounding nine more.

His name is Robert Lewis Dear, 57. He is white and he's from North Carolina. We don't know anything about his motives yet, so we can't say if it was an act of terrorism. 

In order for something as terrible as the attack on Planned Parenthood to be considered terrorism, it needs to be motivated by an ideological belief. 

We know the clinic in Colorado Springs has been repeatedly targeted for protests by anti-abortion activists. We also know that Dear walked into the clinic armed with an assault rifle and randomly shot at people before giving himself over to police five hours later.

We just don't know what made him to do it.

On Friday, Planned Parenthood initially used the phrase "domestic terrorism" to refer to the incident.

Later, they replaced the words "domestic terrorism" with "acts of violence."

Mashable asked Planned Parenthood about the wording change. 

"We haven't ruled out the likely motives of the perpetrator but right now, we are primarily focused on the safety and well-being of our staff and patients," said Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

"As an organization that has been under attack for some time, we are regrettably not unfamiliar with the motives that often lead to violent acts against us."

The rest of America is familiar with these motives as well.

According to the New America Foundation, white Americans are the biggest terror threat in the United States — bigger even than Muslim extremists.

The Washington-based research organization did a review of “terror” attacks on US soil since Sept. 11, 2001, and found that most of them were carried out by radical anti-government groups or white supremacists.

Surprised? You might be.

Almost twice as many people have died in attacks by right-wing groups in America than have died in attacks by Muslim extremists. Of the 26 attacks since 9/11 that New America defined as terror, 19 were carried out by non-Muslims. 

Now, we don't yet know what motivated Robert Lewis Dear, though we will surely learn more in the days and weeks ahead. 

This story was first published by our partners at GlobalPost.

Related Stories