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Dr. Tiller, Reknowned Abortion Doctor Murdered in Kansas ChurchSalem-News.com
After years of repeatedly being the target of protests and violence, the doctor was killed while attending church.
(WICHITA, Kansas) - Police say a Kansas doctor was killed Sunday about 10:00 a.m. while attending the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, where he was a member of the congregation.
The attorney for Dr. Tiller, Dan Monnat, told The AP that Dr. Tiller was shot as he served as an usher during Sunday morning services, and Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time of the shooting.
67-year old Dr. George Tiller has been at the head of longstanding controversy surrounding his practice of administering abortions. His clinic has been the site of many anti-abortion protests for decades, and the doctor was recently acquitted of several misdemeanor charges lodged against him. Tiller has been among the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortion.
According to The New York Times, the doctor was killed when shots were fired from a handgun from the church lobby as he walked into the morning service.
The Wichita Eagle newspaper's website says authorities are looking for a powder blue Taurus made in the 90's which witnesses saw leaving the parking lot immediately after the shooting. They also told the newspaper that the assailant appeared to be a white man. NBC News affiliate, KSN news, reports that the Taurus has a Kansas tag of 225BAB, traced to a residence in Marion, Kansas.
According to the Associated Press, Dr. Tiller had been a favorite target of anti-abortion protesters, and he testified that he and his family suffered years of harassment and threats.
The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue which has been highly critical of Tiller issued this statement via their website:
"We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."
Dr. Tiller was beseiged with difficulties throughout his career while attempting to perform medical services for women.
In 1985 his clinic was bombed. In 1991, the clinic was the site of protest called "Summer of Mercy", complete with mass demonstrations and arrests; and in 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot in both his arms by an extremist abortion opponent, Shelley Shannon, who received an 11-year prison sentence for the crime.
On March 19th, 2009, Dr. Tiller was acquitted of 19 misdemeanor charges stemming from procedures he performed. He could have faced a year in jail for one conviction. The jury took about an hour to find him not guilty of all counts, which stemmed from the notion that he had gotten second opinions from a doctor he worked with instead of an independent doctor.
Another investigation was announced just moments after that verdict however, when the state’s medical board said it was looking into allegations against him that were nearly identical to those the jury had rejected.
According to the Wichita Eagle, Dr. Tiller's clinic had been vandalized in early May, including wires to security cameras, outdoor lighting wiring cut, and the roof was cut and building's downspouts plugged which reportedly caused thousands of dollars of damage to when rain poured through the roof.
Dr. Tiller studied at the University of Kansas School of Medicine from 1963 to 1967. Shortly thereafter, he held a medical internship with United States Navy, and served as flight surgeon in Oakland, California in 1969 and 1970. The Christian Defense Coalition has scheduled a news conference in front of the US Supreme Court on Monday, June 1, to discuss the impact the shooting of Dr. George Tiller will have on the anti-abortion movement and the Supreme Court.
Christian Newswire says that Rev. Patrick Mahoney, national leader and former national spokesperson for Operation Rescue, had just completed leading two weeks of prayer vigils in Wichita during the trial of Dr. Tiller. Their website published a condemnation of the shooting by Rev. Patrick Mahoney.
“This is going to be a larger search than maybe just Wichita,” said Brent Allred, a police captain, who told the New York Times the FBI and state police had been called to the scene.
By noon, there were reportedly few parishioners still at the church, a facility that seats about 500, though police cars were a plenty.
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