Abortion Doctor Shot Dead in Wichita, Kan.

George Tiller, who performed late-term abortions, shot outside of church.

ByABC News
February 12, 2009, 4:07 PM

May 31, 2009— -- Police have arrested a suspect in the killing at church of a controversial abortion doctor, George Tiller, multiple sources told ABC News' Pierre Thomas.

Tiller, 67, was shot and killed this morning in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kan., where he served as an usher and his wife, Jean, sang in the choir. Tiller was handing out programs at Sunday services at the time of the shooting.

The suspect, identified late today as Scott Roeder, was picked up and arrested without incident by Johnson County Sheriff Department around 1:15 p.m., local time, law enforcement officials told ABC News. Deputies identified the light blue 1990s Ford Taurus, which witnesses saw fleeing the scene, in Gardner, Kan., roughly two and half to three hours away from where Tiller was killed.

The suspect is expected to be charged Monday with one count of homicide and two counts of aggravated assault, police said.

Tiller, who ran the Women's Health Care Services clinic, a high-profile abortion clinic in Wichita, was one of the few doctors in the country that still performed late-term abortions. Earlier this month, Tiller's clinic was vandalized, according to reports.

Tiller has long been a target of anti-abortion activists. His clinic has often been the scene of nonviolent protests, but he was also shot outside his clinic in 1993 and his clinic was bombed in 1985.

Wichita Police Capt. Brent Allred said police got an initial call about a shooting at the church at around 10 a.m. local time.

"When [officers] arrived, they found a 67-year-old man had been shot by an unknown suspect or suspects," Wichita Police Duty Chief Gordon Bassham said, adding that the victim was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after emergency crews arrived.

Tiller's attorney, Dan Monnat, confirmed to The Associated Press that Tiller was the victim.

"We don't know whether one or more than one person was involved in this incident," Bassham said before the suspect was captured. "That's part of the ongoing investigation."

Allred said the church was full as shots rang out, and witnesses quickly were rounded up for clues. Wichita Police Deputy Chief Tom Stolz said they have a handful of witnesses who were in close proximity.

Several told reporters they were shocked when shots rang out, even more so because it happened at a church.

"I don't believe in abortion, but I don't believe that we have the right to take anyone's life -- including Dr. Tiller," churchgoer Vivian Farha said. "It's horrible. You would think that that would be one place you can ... feel safe and be in peace with your surroundings. ... I think this why everyone is in shock."

Abortion Clinics Offered U.S. Marshals' Protection

An unidentified woman who answered the phone at Tiller's clinic in Kansas declined to comment or specify whether security measures had been increased in light of Tiller's killing.