US

Colorado Springs Shooter Robert L. Dear Was An Accused Peeping Tom Once Arrested For Animal Cruelty

The gunman who opened fire on a Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday, killing three, has a long criminal history including a peeping tom charge and another for animal cruelty.

Robert L. Dear, now 57, was accused of domestic abuse in 1997 by his wife when the couple lived in Walterboro, S.C., police reports provided to The Daily Caller show.

But Dear will face much tougher charges after he was arrested following a standoff with police on Friday afternoon, more than five hours after he opened fire near the Planned Parenthood clinic.

Dear, who had lived in the small town of Hartsel, Colo. since last year, killed two civilians and Garrett Swasey, a six-year veteran of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs police department. Nine others were injured in the attack. (RELATED: Gunman Opens Fire Near Planned Parenthood Clinic In Colorado Springs)

The shooting has already sparked tense debate over two hot-button issues: abortion and gun control. While Dear’s motive is still unknown, Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers said on Saturday that “inferences” about motives for the attack can be drawn from “where it took place.”

Others are pointing to the incident as further evidence of the need for tougher gun laws.

“We have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them,” Obama said in a statement.

But opponents of gun control are likely to point to Dear’s long and varied criminal history as evidence that he was mentally unstable.

According to the Associated Press, which interviewed a man who lived near Dear in the mountains of North Carolina, Dear was mostly a loner but when he did talk “it was a rambling combination of a number of topics that didn’t make sense together and he tended to avoid eye contact.”

The neighbor, James Russell, also told the AP that he didn’t recall Dear talking about religion or abortion.

Dear’s first documented encounter with police appears to have occurred in 1997 while he was living with his wife in Walterboro, S.C., according to police reports provided by the Colleton County sheriff’s office.

The police reports show that Dear’s wife alleged in June 1997 that her husband assaulted her and pushed her out of a window. She did not press charges in the incident but wanted it put on record.

Colleton County sheriff

Colleton County sheriff’s office report of domestic abuse incident involving Robert L. Dear

Dear was also arrested on a peeping tom charge in June 2002. Dear’s neighbors, a husband and wife, said that he was spotted lurking in a bush outside of their home. That followed months of Dear allegedly making “unwanted advancements” towards his neighbor. Those charges were ultimately dropped.

Dear was also charged with cruelty to animals in Nov. 2002. Another neighbor alleged that Dear shot his dog with a pellet gun.

Dear denied shooting the animal, though he was quoted in the police report as saying that his neighbor “was lucky that it was only a pellet that hit the dog and not a bigger round,” Buzzfeed reported.

That same neighbor filed another police report against Dear in Sept. 2004. He told police that Dear had called him on the phone accusing him of pushing over his motorcycle. Dear threatened to do the neighbor bodily harm as retribution, the police report states.

After moving to Swannanoa, N.C., Dear was charged in two other incidents — one in June 2007 and another in Feb. 2011. Public records do not provide details of those charges.

Follow Chuck on Twitter