COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A gunman opened fire at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday, authorities said, wounding at least four police officers and an unknown number of civilians.
Officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter at least twice, and people inside the building hid from the shooting. At least seven people were taken to area hospitals, officials said.
The timeline of the shootings was not immediately clear. Police said they first exchanged gunfire with the shooter and contained the attack after responding to calls of an active shooter before noon at the Planned Parenthood clinic.
Hours later, they said three officers had been injured and they were searching for the gunman.
Police later encountered the gunman inside the building and a fourth officer was wounded, said police Lt. Catherine Buckley. It was not immediately known if the shootout was ongoing.
Buckley also said she did not know if the gunman had any connection to Planned Parenthood.
Joan Motolinia said his sister, Jennifer, was trapped inside the clinic and hiding behind a table from someone shooting inside the building when she called him.
“She was telling me to take care of her babies because she could get killed,” Motolinia said of the mother of three.
He rushed to the clinic but was frustrated because a police barricade kept him from getting close.
“People were shooting for sure. I heard someone shooting. There was a lot of gunfire. She was calm she was trying to hide from those people,” he said.
Police cordoned off the clinic, nearby medical offices and a shopping center and told people to shelter in place.
Denise Speller, manager of a nearby hair salon, said she heard as many as 20 gunshots in less than five minutes.
She told The Gazette newspaper that she saw a police cruiser and two officers near a Chase Bank branch, not far from the Planned Parenthood facility.
One of the officers appeared to fall to the ground and the other officer knelt down to help and then tried to get the officer to safety behind the car, she said. Another officer told Speller to seek shelter inside the building.
“We’re still pretty freaked out,” Speller said by phone. “We can’t stop shaking.”
Ambulances and police vehicles lined up at a nearby intersection and police told people via Twitter to stay away from the shooting scene because it was not secure.
Mike Pelosi, who works at a deli at a nearby King Sooper grocery store, said he heard over the store’s loudspeaker just before noon that nobody could leave the store.
Pelosi said customers and store employees were confused about what was going on but not panicked. He said a couple dozen customers were standing near the store entrance waiting for instructions.