Dr. George Tiller, an outspoken advocate for abortion rights and one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country, was shot dead in church this morning.
WICHITA, Kan. — George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was shot to death here Sunday in the foyer of his longtime church as he handed out the church bulletin.
The authorities said they took a man into custody later in the day after pulling him over on Interstate 35 in Johnson County, Kan., near Kansas City. They said they expected to charge him with murder on Monday.
The Wichita police said there were several witnesses to the killing, but the law enforcement officials would not say what had been said, if anything, inside the foyer. Officials offered little insight into the motive, saying that they believed it was “the act of an isolated individual” but that they were also looking into “his history, his family, his associates.”
A provider of abortions for more than three decades, Dr. Tiller, 67, had become a focal point for those around the country who opposed it. In addition to regular protests outside his clinic, his house and his church, Dr. Tiller had once seen his clinic bombed; in 1993, an abortion opponent shot him in both arms. He was also the defendant in a series of legal challenges intended to shut down his operations, including two grand juries that were convened after citizen-led petition drives.
On Sunday morning, moments after services had begun at Reformation Lutheran Church, on this city’s East Side, Dr. Tiller, who was acting as an usher, was shot once with a handgun, the authorities said. As many as a dozen other churchgoers were standing in the foyer near him when he was shot, the police said. The gunman pointed the weapon at two people who tried to stop him, the police said, then fled the church and drove off in a powder blue Taurus. Dr. Tiller’s wife, Jeanne, a member of the church choir, was inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting.
The police in Wichita described the man who was taken into custody as a 51-year-old from Merriam, a Kansas City suburb, but declined to give his name until he was charged. The Associated Press reported that a sheriff’s official from Johnson County identified him as Scott Roeder.
Contine reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/us/01tiller.html?hp