As a portrait of Robert Lewis Dear, the gunman alleged to have opened fire inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on Friday, begins to emerge, the dominant characteristics are that of an odd and aggressive individual often living on the fringes of society.
A law enforcement official says the suspect in the attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic made a comment about "no more baby parts" after his arrest. Planned Parenthood said in a statement Saturday that witnesses said the gunman was motivated by his opposition to abortion, according to the Associated Press.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch is calling the shootings in Colorado Springs a crime against women receiving health care services at Planned Parenthood.
In Colorado, Dear, 57, called the rural town of Hartsel home, according to information on ColoradoVoters.info. Located in the center of the state about a 90-minute drive west of Colorado Springs, Hartsel's population is fewer than 700, with a density of one person for every square mile of ranchland. Although little is known about his interactions there, a number of reports detail contentious run-ins with neighbors and law enforcement during Dear's earlier years living in North and South Carolina.
James Howie, who lives near one of two Dear-owned properties in remote North Carolina, was asked to do foundation work at a Dear shack in Black Mountain, about 15 miles east of Asheville. After accompanying Dear to the job site, he declined the offer of employment.
"I wouldn't ride with that fellow from here to the mailbox now," Howie told the Asheville Citizen-Times on Saturday, adding that Dear struck him as more "crazy" than violent. "I was just glad to get home."
Dear's Black Mountain home is a small, yellow edifice that lacks both electricity and running water. On one exterior wall hangs a cross made of twigs. Another nearby property features a decrepit mobile home that appears to have been abandoned.
A neighbor of Dear's Black Mountain property said she and her family "kept out of his way" when they would see their neighbor approaching along the area's unkempt roads.
"He wouldn't really speak to anybody, he wouldn't wave," Mallory Nicoletti, 29, told.
Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, told The Washington Post that Dear "was the kind of person you had to watch out for. He was a very weird individual. It's hard to explain, but he had a weird look in his eye most of the time."
Neighbors in the area said Dear rarely spoke about religion or abortion. The loner's main company seemed to be a mangy dog that looked so bad neighbors called animal control. But Dear's story gets more troubling when assessing his earlier, married years in South Carolina, where police records show a history of arrests for domestic violence, animal cruelty and being a peeping tom.
In 1997, Dear's then-wife, Pamela Ross, called sheriff's deputies in South Carolina's Colleton County, west of Charleston, and reported that her husband had assaulted her and locked her out of the house, according to arrest records. On Saturday, the Charleston Post and Courier contacted Ross, who divorced Dear in 2000. "I know everyone has a lot of questions," she said. "We all do. ... We're living it just as everyone else is."
In 2002, records show that Dear was accused by one neighbor of leering at her from the bushes, and by another of shooting his dog with a pellet gun. A 2004 incident report indicates that Dear threatened to "do bodily harm" to a neighbor.
Colorado officials have yet to release any details from their questioning of Dear, who surrendered to law enforcement after a rampage that left three people dead, including one police officer. Nine others were wounded. Although the location of the siege would seem to imply Dear had an issue with Planned Parenthood, even that organization's leaders have yet to say whether there is a link between Dear and the fierce national rhetoric between abortion opponents and supporters.
That said, Dear's former North Carolina neighbors remember a man filled with grievances.
"He complained about everything," one neighbor told The Washington Post. "He said he worked with the government, and everybody was out to get him, and he knew the secrets of the USA. He said, 'Nobody touch me, because I've got enough information to put the whole U.S. of A in danger.' It was very crazy."
Dear lived in the run-down mobile home in Swannanoa, N.C., until about a year ago. At that point, he moved to rural Colorado, where, according to the Post, real estate agent Jim Anderson sold Dear a $6,000, five-acre parcel. Dear then spent another $4,000 for a pull-behind trailer that served as his living quarters. Anderson said there was nothing unusual about Dear, and while he did not see him toting weapons, even that would not have raised suspicion.
"Out here everybody has a gun," Anderson said. "There are bears and mountain lions."
By Saturday afternoon, FBI agents had arrived at Dear's North Carolina shack, seeking more clues to Friday's brutal crime.