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Authorities have released few details about Robert Lewis Dear, the man identified as the alleged sole shooter in an attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic that left three dead and nine others wounded Friday. But while investigators continue to search for clues to his motive, reporters have started digging into Dear’s past.
According to the Associated Press, 57-year-old Dear split his time between a house in Swannanoa, N.C., and a remote cabin without electricity or running water in Black Mountain, about 15 miles outside Asheville, N.C.
Neighbor James Russell told the AP that Dear typically kept to himself and that on the occasions when they did speak, Dear avoided eye contact and rambled about a variety of unrelated topics. However, Russell said, he’d never heard Dear talk about religion or abortion.
The AP also reported that on Saturday, Dear’s cabin was adorned with a cross made of twigs.
Other news outlets have traced Dear’s roots back to South Carolina, where police records indicate a history of arrests and domestic and neighbor disputes dating back to the mid-1990s.
The Daily Beast has reported that Dear was arrested in 2002 on peeping Tom charges that were later dismissed and again in 2003 on animal cruelty charges for which he was found not guilty.
According to police records obtained by the Daily Beast, Dear’s then-next-door neighbors Lynn Roberts and her husband reported that Dear “had been making unwanted advancements,” “leering at Ms. Roberts on a regular basis,” and had been seen peering into their home from the bushes on more than one occasion. In July 2002, Roberts apparently obtained a restraining order against her neighbor.
The animal cruelty charges were prompted by a report from another neighbor, Douglas Moore, who accused Dear of shooting his dog with a pellet gun. Two years later, Moore reported to police that Dear had threatened him with “bodily harm” because “the suspect [Dear] thought the victim [Moore] had pushed his motorcycle over on the ground.”
According to the the Daily Beast, that police report noted that “this is [an] ongoing problem between the victim and the suspect.”
Dear wasn’t just the subject of police reports. He also, the Daily Beast reported, had himself called the cops a number of times, often to accuse “juveniles” of damaging his property.
The Daily Beast also noted that some of the police reports list Dear’s occupation as “self-employed art dealer.”
So far, searches for social media profiles and other online activity have yielded little evidence that Dear had much of an Internet presence.
Dear surrendered to police nearly five hours after he’s believed to have opened fire on a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs on Friday. The city’s mayor, John Suthers, said Saturday that while investigators were not ready to discuss a possible motive for the attack — still hoping to glean more information about the gunman and his mental state — people can “make inferences from where it took place.”
Dear is being held without bond at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center and is expected to appear in court Monday.