HELENA — Helena Police say someone fired two shots at the front entry of a Planned Parenthood center in Helena Thursday afternoon.
Planned Parenthood of Montana’s communications coordinator said their Helena health center was closed Friday, giving staff a day off and allowing an investigation to continue.
“We are working very closely with law enforcement to investigate further and understand these details,” said Mary Sullivan, Planned Parenthood of Montana Communications Coordinator. “But right now, we are focused on our team, our patients, and ensuring safety by continuing to coordinate with law enforcement.”
HPD say they responded to the 1500 block of Cannon Street around 5:45 p.m. Thursday, for a report of gunshots.
They said while officers were checking the area they received a call from the center, reporting someone had shot their front door. The health center had already closed at the time.
Police determined someone walked up to the front of the clinic and fired two rounds from a shotgun. They further reported the shots were not directed toward anyone, and no one was injured.
On Friday afternoon, HPD asked for assistance in identifying an individual wearing a plaid shirt, blue jeans and a baseball cap in connection with the incident. They have also identified a blue/green station wagon as a vehicle of interest.
Detectives said Friday they are continuing to investigate.
Planned Parenthood centers in Missoula, Great Falls and Billings remained open on Friday. Sullivan said they contacted patients who were set to come into the Helena center on Friday and rescheduled their appointments. She said the center will be closed Monday for Indigenous Peoples Day, then reopened on Tuesday.
Sullivan said their locations have security measures in place at all times and that they want patients and staff to know that they’re safe.
“We're going to continue within the next couple of weeks to ensure that those are strengthened just in the immediate wake of this,” she explained.
Sullivan said they didn’t want to speculate on the reason for this incident at this time, but that’s it’s not a secret that anti-abortion sentiment exists.
“Our doors will remain open in Planned Parenthood of Montana, for the long haul. We've been in Montana for more than 50 years, and we're going to keep providing the safe care that all Montanans need and that they rely on and trust,” noted Sullivan.
During the last two Montana legislative sessions, state lawmakers have passed a series of tighter restrictions on abortion.
Many of those laws have been blocked in courtbecause of a 1999 state Supreme Court decision that said the Montana Constitution’s right to privacy protected abortion before fetal viability.
Friday morning, anti-abortion protesters with the group 40 Days for Life were protesting outside the Helena Planned Parenthood center. They told MTN they were not aware of the shooting incident.
If you have any information, please contact Detective Kent Anderson at 406-444-1319 or the Helena Police Department dispatch at 406-457-8865. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact CrimeStoppers at 406-443-2000, online at www.helenacrimestoppers.com, or with the P3 Tips app.