George Tiller Killed: Abortion Doctor Shot At Church
***UPDATE*** US Attorney General Eric Holder is dispatching US Marshals to protect abortion clinic and doctors around the country.
Holder issued the following statement:
The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring.
***UPDATE*** Tiller's wife Jeanne, his four children and ten grandchildren issued the following statement
"Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today's event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George's friends and patients. This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.
We would like to express the family's thanks for the many messages of sympathy from our friends and from all across the nation. We also want to thank the law enforcement officers who are investigating this crime.
Our loss is also a loss for the City of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere."
Johnson County Sheriff's deputies stopped Scott Roeder on I-35 between the two main Gardner exits around 1:30 p.m. He surrendered without incident. Deputies did not find any weapons on him...
According to Phannestiel, Roeder is on temporary hold for Sedgwick County at the Johnson County New Century Detention Center near Gardner. Roeder is considered a person of interest at this time
***UPDATE*** President Obama issued the following statement about Dr. George Tiller's murder:
"I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."
***UPDATE*** At an afternoon news conference, Wichita Police confirmed that a suspect, a 51-year-old man, had been arrested for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, reports KSN-3 News:
The suspect is currently facing one count of murder and two counts of aggravated assault for threatening onlookers who tried to intervene.
Several witnesses to the shooting attempted to intervene and chase down Tiller's killer, but he was able to flee in his blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB. Several hours later, the suspect was arrested near Gardner, Kansas on Interstate 35, reports the Kansas City Star.
***UPDATE*** The AP reports that a suspect is in custody:
A Wichita city official says a suspect is in custody in the shooting death of late-term abortion provider George Tiller.
The city official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The official did not provide additional details.
An attorney for Tiller, Dan Monnat, says the doctor was shot Sunday as he served as an usher during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church. Monnat said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time of the shooting.
WICHITA, Kansas -- Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas doctor whose clinic received national attention for performing late-term abortions, was shot to death as he entered his Wichita church on Sunday.
"Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police," the Wichita Eagle reported, "and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot."
Media reports said the suspected killer fled the scene in a blue Taurus. Police described him as a white male in his 50s or 60s.
Tiller has been among the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortion, making him a favored target of anti-abortion protesters. He testified that he and his family have suffered years of harassment and threats. His clinic was the site of the 1991 "Summer of Mercy" protests marked by mass demonstrations and arrests. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and an abortion opponent shot him in both arms in 1993.
Tiller's clinic also provided group and individual counseling, as well as chaplain and funeral services for people who were grieving.
The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which runs a "Tiller Watch" feature on its website, released a statement condemning the shooting. "We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."
Tiller remained prominent in the news in recent years, in part because of an investigation begun by former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion opponent.
Prosecutors had alleged that Tiller had gotten second opinions from a doctor who was essentially an employee of his, not independent as state law requires, but a jury in March acquitted him of all 19 misdemeanor counts against him.
Abortion opponents also questioned then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' ties to Tiller before the Senate confirmed her this year as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary. Tiller donated thousands of dollars to Sebelius over the years.