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Abortion doctor Tiller shot to death

WICHITA, Kan., May 31 (UPI) -- Dr. George Tiller, a prominent target for abortion opponents, was gunned down Sunday at his church in Wichita, Kan., and police said a suspect was in custody.

Witnesses and a police source told The Wichita Eagle Tiller, 67, was killed just after 10 a.m. in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church, where he was an usher, as he handed out bulletins to people entering the sanctuary.

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A church member told the Eagle the assailant threatened another person after shooting Tiller.

The newspaper said the suspect was arrested in Gardner but authorities had yet to release details. The suspect was described as a 51-year-old man from the Kansas City, Kan., area, CNN said.

Speaking with reporters, Wichita Police Detective Tom Stoltz said, "We think we have the right person arrested."

The Tiller family issued a statement through Wichita lawyers Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson.

"Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today's event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George's friends and patients," the family statement said. "This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace."

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The Eagle reported congregation members were initially detained inside the church by police and witnesses to the shooting were later seen being taken downtown for questioning.

Abortion opponents had focused on Tiller because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services, performs late-term abortions.

"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down," anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said in a statement on its Web site. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

President Barack Obama said in a statement issued by the White House he was "shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning."

"However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence," Obama said.

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