Garrett Swasey, an officer at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) police force, died when suspected gunman Robert Dear stormed into a Planned Parenthood clinic with an AK-47-style weapon on Friday. According to NBC News, Dear shot at responding officers from inside the building during a five-hour standoff.
Swasey, 44, was the first of three victims to be identified in the shootings at the clinic. A statement from UCCS Pam Shockley Zalabak mentioned that the officer was killed in the line of duty as he responded in support of Colorado Springs Police to the active shooter situation at about 11:50 a.m. Friday.
In Colorado, the six-year UCCS police veteran, was an elder at the Hope Chapel. He, his wife, Rachel, and his two kids, Elijah, 10, and Faith, 6, "view the members of the church as their family," according to a profile at the church's website. His wife volunteers in the church nursery, and one of his contributions to the church was playing guitar on the worship team.
However, Swasey's passions were not limited to music. He was originally from Melrose, Massachusetts, and moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue his goal of being a competitive figure skater. His father, David Swasey, told the Boston Globe that his son won a national championship in the junior ranks and competed in the U.S. Championships at least three times.
In the early 1990s, Swasey trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center as a champion ice skater until he retired and became an officer, according to a YouCaring crowdfunding website set up by a family friend. As a child, he competed with former U.S. National Champion Nancy Kerrigan, who told CBS Local that, "He's [Garrett] still in my heart like a little brother. A true friend (and a) very loyal, caring person and a good listener.".
Swasey and his wife had been involved in the leadership at Hope Chapel for almost 15 years. He served as one of the church's co-pastors, or elders. In the final sermon he delivered, he encouraged his congregation to always consider Christ and the Gospel.
"Our objective is not to bring glory to ourselves but to bring glory to God. How? By transforming our lives through the Gospel. Apart from that it can't be done, not in our own strength." Swasey explained. "We tend to want to do our own thing - 'rugged individualism.' But in spiritual matters we are utterly dependent on Christ. We cannot stand before God on our own merits."
Some of his followers on Twitter pointed out the irony surrounding the circumstances of his death. Swasey was killed trying to rescue people at a Planned Parenthood clinic, an establishment that carries out abortions. One user mentioned that "The officer opposed abortions that happen at PP, but thought nothing of rushing to scene to protect the employees inside. That's pro-life."
Swasey ended his sermon with a prayer and by quoting renowned American general Douglas MacArthur; "History of failure can be summed up in two words: too late."