Veteran cop, volunteer pastor, and championship ice skater Garrett Swasey was one of three people killed in a shootout at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday.
Swasey, who’d served with the University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs police force for the past six years, was on duty at the campus when he responded to a call about an active shooter at the women’s health clinic just before noon.
Swasey, 44, and his wife, Rachel, had been involved in the leadership at Colorado Springs’ Hope Chapel since 2001. Swasey served as one of the evangelical church’s co-pastors, or elders, while his wife helped run the chapel nursery, according to their biography on the church website.
“As an elder, you will find him sharing his teaching gift as part of the teaching team and sharing his guitar skills on the worship team,” reads Swasey’s bio. His daughter Faith is 6 years old and son Elijah is going on 11.
After growing up in Massachusetts, it was Swasey’s figure skating career that reportedly brought him to Colorado Springs to train years ago.
According to The Denver Post, Swasey and skating partner Christine Fowler won the junior national ice dancing championship in Orlando, Florida, in 1992. In 1995, he took home 13th place at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Providence, Rhode Island, with partner Hillary Tompkins. The pair would go on to perform in musical on ice shows in Maine.
By late Friday evening, two vigils had been planned for Saturday in honor of Swasey and the other shooting victims, the first at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church at 11:30 a.m., followed by a candlelight vigil starting at 7 p.m. on the UCCS campus. The university’s basketball teams are also planning to start both of their games Saturday with a moment of silence.
A Facebook page has been set up in memory of the fallen officer, as has a crowdfunding page for donations to an educational fund for Swasey's children. Supporters have already surpassed the fund’s goal of $5,000, donating $7,238 so far.
Two other people were killed and 9 more injured — five of them police officers — in Friday’s shootout, which lasted five hours before gunman Robert Lewis Dear surrendered to police. As of Saturday morning, little information had been made available about the 57-year-old North Carolinian, who is being held without bond at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center, or his motive for the shooting rampage. So far, Swasey is the only victim whose identity had been made public. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the names of the two slain civilians would not likely be released until Saturday evening or Sunday morning.
In a statement released early Saturday morning, President Obama said the shootings emphasized the need to “do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”