The gunman has barricaded themselves inside Planned Parenthood | Google Maps
The gunman has barricaded themselves inside Planned Parenthood | Google Maps Google Maps

Gunman in custody after shooting at Planned Parenthood clinic

POLICE have surrounded the scene of an "active shooter" situation they said erupted close the the offices of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Colorado and where four officers and an undetermined number of civilians were injured.

Reports said a number of ambulances ferried patients to local hospitals as the situation developed. One witnesses said they saw a police officer hit after up to 10 shots rang out. He was helped into a vehicle by another officer.

Witnesses said the heard multiple shots after seeing a man wearing a long coat and hunting-style hat, armed with a long gun, at 11.30am local time.

CSPD PIO responding to call if active shooter in Centennial Bl. The area is NOT secure. Media do not stage in area!

Reports initially said the incident had been quickly contained. However, police then said the situation was still active and three hours after the incident began, police reported more shots were fired at them. A fourth officer was injured in that exchange.

"Four officers were injured. Some of the injured officers have been transported [to hospital]," Lt Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said at a press conference.

"We have encountered one shooter, though we always train for the possibility there are more than one. The person is inside the Planned Parenthood office."

Denise Speller, a witness, said: "We heard several gunshots and saw one of the officers go down. It was terrifying. The other officer got him into the car."

A spokeswoman for Penrose-St. Francis Medical Centre in Colorado Springs confirmed the hospital received three patients from the shooting but the nature and extent of their injuries were not immediately provided. Local media later said that a fourth patient had been taken to the hospital.

An official with Planned Parenthhood said the sitution was still developing, but that their concern was for their "patients, staff and law enforcement".

The police department said in a Twitter post that an initial call for assistance referred to a person firing a gun in the city's northwest, on Centennial Boulevard, where the Planned Parenthood centre is located.

The facility provides abortions, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy testing and other services, according to its website. It was not immediately clear whether the clinic was open for business at the time or whether it was a target of the shooting.

According to Reuters, abortion is a divisive issue in the politically competitive state of Colorado, figuring prominently in attack ads during last year's hard-fought Senate race between incumbent Democrat Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner, the winner of the election

Early police reports painted a chaotic picture of the situation.

"The area is NOT secure. Media do not stage in the area," the police department said in its tweet.

Police ordered a lock-down and local businesses and shops were told to remain inside their buildings. At the same time, police directed more and more resources to the scene, including heavily armed Swat team members. One restaurant owener, Jim, said he had been forced to remain in his business with all his customers. He said ten police officers were also present.

Colorado Springs, about 70 miles south of Denver, was the scene of a mass shooting on October 31 in which a gunman killed three people near the city centre before dying in a shootout with police.

The city is home to the US Air Force Academy and the US Olympic training centre.

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