April 28, 2016 / 10:16 AM / 3 years ago

Colorado clinic gunman thought FBI was tailing him: police

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) - The man accused of fatally shooting three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last year thought, before he opened fire, that the FBI was tracking him, a police detective said in court on Thursday.

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, attends a hearing to face 179 counts of various criminal charges at El Paso County court in Colorado Springs, Colorado December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Andy Cross/Pool/File photo

Robert Lewis Dear, 58, told police he believed 10 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were following him the day of the shooting and that his neighbor and girlfriend worked for U.S. authorities, Colorado Springs Police Detective Jerry Schiffelbein said under questioning by Dear’s attorney.

Schiffelbein, who interviewed Dear after his arrest, said there was no indication the FBI ever followed or monitored Dear.

The testimony was presented at a hearing in Colorado Springs, site of the shootings at the nationwide abortion provider’s clinic, to determine whether he is mentally competent after he made courtroom outbursts in December and sought to dismiss his lawyers.

Dear faces multiple charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with the Nov. 27 shooting, in which three people died and nine others were wounded.

El Paso County District Judge Gilbert Martinez, in response to a question from prosecutors on Thursday, acknowledged his order for a competency hearing, handed down in December, began with a limited scope to decide if Dear was competent enough to fire his lawyers.

But Martinez said he is now seeking to determine whether the accused shooter is fit to stand trial.

State psychologist Jackie Grimmett also took the stand at Thursday’s hearing, testifying that she concluded after interviewing Dear he suffered from delusional disorder.

“I do not believe Mr. Dear is competent to stand trial,” she said.

Dear interrupted Thursday’s proceedings with increasing frequency as the hearing went on.

At court in December, Dear declared he was guilty and called himself a “warrior for the babies.”

If Martinez rules Dear mentally unfit, the case will be suspended while he undergoes treatment with the goal of restoring him to competency. It was not clear if the judge would make any ruling on Thursday.

Dear, who police said was armed with several rifles and opened fire in the parking lot of the clinic before storming the building, told detectives after his arrest he was upset with Planned Parenthood for performing abortions and what he said was the “selling of body parts,” the documents showed.

He has been held without bond at the El Paso County jail since he surrendered to end the five-hour siege.

Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and James Dalgleish

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