Officer killed in Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting was devoted to his job, family and faith

Officer Garrett Swasey was killed along with two others, nine were injured


The hero officer killed in the shooting Friday at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic had lived a life devoted to his job, his family and his Christian faith, according to his friends.

The body of the fallen University of Colorado at Colorado Springs officer Garrett Swasey was transported from the crime scene to the El Paso County Coroner’s office early Saturday, accompanied on the snowy 10-mile trip by a long line of police vehicles.

Officers who participated told KRDO-TV they wanted to honor Swasey, 44, who left behind a wife and two young children.

Swasey was killed as cops exchanged gunfire with 57-year-old suspect Robert Dear during a five-hour standoff Friday at the clinic Planned Parenthood runs in Colorado Springs. Dear, of Hartsel, Colo., later surrendered to police.

Police say two civilians were also killed in the rampage. They have not been identified.

Swasey's father said his son loved figure skating, was a great dad and was loved by all in his department.

David Swasey, 73, told The Boston Globe his son, moved to Colorado from Massachusetts in the 1980s to pursue figure skating and won a national championship in the junior ranks.

"He was a great dad,” the father told the paper. “I mean, a super dad. Everybody in the police department loved him. Anybody who ever met him loved him. He was a great guy, a great person.”

Six police officers and a dispatcher from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs choked back tears as they stood for a moment of silence during a vigil for slain officer Garrett Swasey.

A longer vigil was planned for Swasey later Saturday evening.

None of the officers talked to reporters after the ceremony, though one cried into the shoulder of the school mascot.

In a statement Saturday condemning the shooting, President Obama remembered Swasey's sacrifice.

"May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save -- and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing," Obama said.

Swasey had been on the campus police force for six years and was an Elder at Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs, where he also played the guitar.

Fellow church members and friends described Swasey as a man of courage and a loving father who drew strength and inspiration from his faith, The New York Times reported Saturday.

“Here’s a guy who worked full time as a police officer, and then gave a great amount of time to his local church and didn’t get a dime for it,” co-pastor Scott Dontanville told the paper. “He did it because it was the thing that he felt he needed to do.”

Kurt Aichele, a co-pastor at the church, told the paper his close friend frequently responded to dangerous calls off campus.

“It’s not the first time that he’s been place in harm’s way,” he said. “He’s an absolute man of courage.”

Aichele said he was in the room as Swasey’s wife broke the news to their son, Elijah, 10, and daughter Faith, 6.

“She had to tell her kids that their daddy wasn’t coming home,” Aichele told the paper.

A YouCaring page created by a friend Amy Oviatt is raising funds for the children’s education.

She wrote that Swasey trained as an ice dancer at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs before retiring and moving into law enforcement.