Has Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Dealt With Anything Like The Planned Parenthood Shooting Before?
The state of Colorado has been at the center of the national news media for the last couple of days, the result of a deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. The suspect, identified by the authorities as Robert Lewis Dear, was arrested after a five-hour standoff on Friday afternoon. Three people were fatally shot, one of them a police officer. The attacks drew a response from Colorado governor John Hickenlooper on Saturday, and he's no stranger to gun violence — his state has dealt with things like the Planned Parenthood shooting before, at least insofar as tragic loss of life is concerned.
If you're not immediately familiar with Hickenlooper, he's a Democrat. He was sworn into the governor's office in 2011, after comfortably winning the 2010 gubernatorial race against Republican Dan Maes and third-party conservative candidate Tom Tancredo. Prior to that, he served as mayor of Denver dating back to 2003. After the shooting in Colorado Springs on Friday, as the Denver Post detailed, Hickenlooper praised the bravery of law enforcement, and pledged that public safety resources were available.
We hold the Colorado Springs community in our thoughts and prayers. The bravery and courage of local law enforcement officers have prevented a dire situation from being far worse, and we are all grateful. We are in contact with Mayor Suthers. All state Public Safety resources are at the ready, if and when needed.
It's not the first time Hickenlooper has had to respond to an unexpected gun violence incident in his state. Mass shootings are distressingly common in the United States — they can happen anywhere, and Colorado is no exception. Undoubtedly the most infamous example throughout Hickenlooper's tenure came on July 20th, 2012: the Dark Knight Rises premiere theater shooting in the city of Aurora, which left 12 people dead, and a staggering 70 more injured.
The heavily armed gunman in that case, James Holmes, would ultimately be convicted on 24 counts of murder and more than 100 counts of attempted murder, earning him a life sentence without parole, and an 3,318 years on top of that. After Holmes had been arrested, and the Aurora community was left to heal, here's how Hickenlooper described the feeling of being in charge when "terrorist" violence strikes.
In a funny way, I'm the chief mourner for the state. ... I think the president at one point referred to being the chief mourner for the country. You are a way that people's emotions, they kind of come through you. It was almost as if the people that died were the brightest and best, the most vibrant, the most alive. You heard about them, and they were just unusually remarkable people. You'd also hear from survivors, their determination to get on with their lives, they weren't going to let this ruin their lives, they weren't going to be defined by it. They were going to go back to the movies, they weren't gonna let this terrorist — it really was a terrorist act — they weren't going to let him win.
According to local news outlets, Hickenlooper has ordered the state's flags lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of the Planned Parenthood shooting.