Man Charged in Slaying of Kansas Abortion Doctor

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WICHITA, KS—A 51-year-old man was charged with first-degree murder and jailed for the killing of a physician whose women’s-health clinic often was highlighted in the debate over abortion, authorities said.

Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed while serving as an usher at his Wichita, Kansas, church Sunday morning, police reported. Tiller was one of the few physicians who performed late-term abortion. Tiller had also survived a shooting outside of his clinic in 1993.

Scott Roeder from the Kansas City, Kansas area is being held without bond in the Sedgwick County Adult Detention Facility. He is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

“This is a tragedy for the Tiller family. We feel so badly about that. That Scott would murder the doctor in the Lutheran Church. We are also Lutherans, and it adds a double touch of sadness and irony,” said Scott’s uncle, Clarence Roeder, in a statement provided to CNN affiliate KMBC.

The shooting prompted U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to direct federal marshals to “offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation,” according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

Police found Tiller lying dead in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, where he had been serving as an usher on Sunday.

Witnesses described the gunman’s car and a license plate number. About 30 miles southwest of Kansas City, the police stopped the described blue Ford Taurus, and arrested the driver.

“Other than the description the Wichita Police Department put out, we wouldn’t have paid any particular attention to him. He was following all traffic laws and everything,” said Lt. Mike Pfhannestiel of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. “We didn’t find a weapon on him. He did not have a weapon on him.”

“We think we have the right person arrested,” said Wichita police Detective Tom Stoltz. “We will investigate this suspect to the Nth degree — his history, his family, his associates — and we are just in the beginning stages of that.”

The motive remains unknown, but if the murder was due to his line of work, Tiller would be the fourth U.S. physician killed over abortion since 1993.

 

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