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[UPDATED] Church shooting, Wichita, Kansas: Controversial Dr. George Tiller Murdered

By Steve Huff in homicide
Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 12:49 pm

A 2007 protest outside George Tiller's clinic in Wichita. Three weeks ago a YouTube user with the screen name "Mondoballz" left this comment on this video: "watch out for scott roeder [...] hes the biggest fraud con man [...] on earth yehweh bless."

UPDATE 4

The Associated Press has identified the suspect in the murder of Dr. George Tiller as Scott Roeder. Roeder comes from Merriam, Kansas. Someone with the same name signed the petition at ChargeTiller.com more than once. His comments may have been removed, but a Google search still yields portions of what Roeder posted. In March of 2007, Roeder wrote, in part: "PUT THIS MONSTER TILLER BEHIND BARS WHERE HE CAN'T MURDER ANY MORE OF OUR MOST INNOCENT UNBORN BABIES, WHO HAVE NO VOICE!!!"

Roeder was involved in OperationRescue.org activities as well. The original webpage containing this comment has been taken offline, but in May of 2007, Roeder wrote the following comment at the bottom of this post:

Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.
Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn't seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller. 

You can see Roeder's comment if you scroll to the bottom of the copied webpage linked before the quote.

Scott P. Roeder, incidentally, was pegged as one of the Freemen by the FBI about 13 years ago. After Roeder was stopped in Shawnee County, KS with fuse cord, a pound of gunpowder and nine-volt batteries in his trunk, the AP reported that his name was on an FBI list of members of the group. A search of Roeder's residence following his arrest also yielded pages of instruction from the "Underground Cookboook" on how to create a "clothes pin time-delayed switch."

Roeder was initially convicted of an explosives violation and placed on probation. In December, 1997, the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed that conviction and ended Roeder's probation, ruling that the initial search of Roeder's vehicle had been illegal.

Science Blogs has more interesting information here.  

Read more about the Freemen on Wikipedia.

UPDATE 3

At ChargeTiller.com, a site devoted to seeing charges leveled at the abortion doctor, an interesting comment on a petition to the State of Kansas to charge George Tiller may have been deleted. At one time, a comment on this page of the petition read in part: "TILLER MUST DIE PUBLICTLY, OBSERVED BY THE WORLD TO SEE, OPENLY, THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE INVOLVED WITH THIS PRACTICES MUST BE AWARE TO TURN ON THERE WICKED WAYS." Now it seems like that comment is gone, only to be found in the Google summary, as evidenced by the screen cap below.

chargetiller.jpg
UPDATE 2

During a press conference given in Wichita at 4 p.m. CT, Dep. Chief of Police Tom Stolz declined to give the name of the suspect currently in custody. He did state that the suspect, who was arrested near Gardner, KS, would also face charges of assault connected with the shooting of George Tiller. The killer, a 51-year-old man, apparently threatened two Reformation Lutheran church members who tried to apprehend him after the shooting. Wichita PD will also be investigating any connection between the suspect and various pro-life groups who have threatened Dr. Tiller in the past.  

UPDATE

The Wichita Eagle is reporting an arrest in this case:

The suspect in this morning's fatal shooting of George Tiller is in custody, according to emergency dispatchers.

Authorities have yet to release more information about the arrest. Wichita police have scheduled a 4 p.m. [CT] news conference to discuss the case.

Original post

There has been a fatal shooting at a Wichita, Kansas Lutheran church. According to Eyewitness News in Wichita, a 6'1", 220-lb white male in his 50s or 60s opened fire this morning at the Reformation Lutheran Church near the intersection of 13 and Rock. The Wichita Eagle is reporting that the victim was Dr. George Tiller.

The following is from Tiller's own website: "Dr. George Tiller has provided abortion services since 1973. He pioneered the use of sonogram imaging during surgery and other procedures that have been adopted as the standard of care for abortion providers nationwide."  

drtiller.jpg
George Tiller
The Eagle states that Tiller "has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed."

To get a taste of the kind of negative attention and criticism George Tiller has received in the past, you need look no further than Bill O'Reilly's website and a blog post made in 2006 by O'Reilly producer Jesse Watters. According Watters, the abortion doctor has in the past been called "Tiller the Baby Killer." Tiller has also, according to O'Reilly's producer, "terminated late-term pregnancies by citing temporary 'depression' on the part of the mother, and performed these abortions on girls as young as ten, never informing police these girls were victims of rape or incest."

A site devoted to portraying George Tiller as a "baby killer" is Dr-Tiller.com. Registered in 2004 by an Oklahoman named Stuart Bensch, the site referred to Tiller as "America's Most Notorious Abortionist." There are (or were - it is difficult to determine whether the site is down from traffic or is offline completely, hence the link to the archived version) multiple stories of Tiller allegedly performing "coerced late-term" abortions and of grand jury investigations into Tiller's practice.

A Stuart Bensch can be found expressing his support of James Kopp here. About Kopp, who was convicted of the sniper-style murder of abortion doctor Barnett Slepian, Bensch wrote: "The evidence still doesn't match! I believe Kopp is confessing a crime he didn't commit to turn attention away from himself and toward the unborn. It's an act of great selflessness and great stupidity. I believe that his "confession" was the wrong thing to do, but I stand behind him anyway." Bensch also registered TillertheKiller.com.

But Bensch is just one pro-life activist out of many - George Tiller has been at the center of the abortion debate for decades. His clinic was bombed in the mid 1980s and he was shot and wounded by an anti-abortion activist in 1993. 

Whether or not Tiller's activities as an abortion doctor had something to do with his murder remain to be seen, but my guess is that the answer is pretty obvious. After all, Tiller was just acquitted in late March this year of charges he'd conducted illegal abortions. 

The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has weighed in on Tiller's murder: "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."

My spidey-sense says this story is about to be very big, and intensely politically charged. No matter which side of the abortion debate you're on, you should probably put on your seatbelt.

This post will be updated and revised.  


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