On a day when most people celebrated the nation's freedom, someone aimed a gun at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Brainerd and pulled the trigger.
The irony is not lost on Planned Parenthood officials.
Sarah Stoesz, president and chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota, said on a day when the nation had a heightened awareness of terrorist targets, it is likely a fellow American was behind terrorist activity in Brainerd.
"Terroristic threats we are concerned about are home-grown," Stoesz said at a Friday afternoon news conference at the clinic.
Friday afternoon, plywood covered Planned Parenthood's clinic door and one window. Tape covered another window with a jagged bullet hole. Inside, holes in walls or scored paths along the ceiling marked where bullets landed.
"It's outrageous, cowardly. It's despicable," Stoesz said of the shooting. "I know the people of Brainerd don't support this kind of activity, but someone does."
Stoesz said they reluctantly closed the clinic Friday to clean up interior damage, much of it broken glass. The clinic serves about 40 to 50 patients each day, which creates a yearly average of 9,000 to 10,000 patient visits per year. But Stoesz and the Brainerd clinic's staff members were concerned about the women -- who may have depended on getting to see them Friday -- who were turned away. Stoesz said the person or people behind the shooting were trying to intimidate others from basic health care.
The clinic administers health check-ups, cancer checks such as Pap smears and breast exams, administers birth control and emergency contraception, in a high dose birth control pill for women who were raped or had unplanned sexual intercourse. The pill must be taken within 72 hours. They said they have an average of two to three women in each week regarding date rapes.
The clinic does not perform abortions. Thirteen people work at the clinic with about three volunteers.
Cindy Swenson, regional Planned Parenthood manager, said while the shooter may have assumed the clinic was empty, he or she did not know that a manager was not working late or cleaning staff was not in the building at the time.
"It's really, really scary," said clinic manager Jennifer Ronneberg. "And how did they know no one was here?"
Ronneberg said she runs in at times with her 8-year-old daughter.
"And what does (the shooting) say to her?" Ronneberg said.
Swenson said the clinic is seeing more low-income women and women who have lost insurance in the last few months. Both Swenson and Ronneberg said the clinic needs community support.
Out of 23 Minnesota locations, the Brainerd Planned Parenthood was the sole clinic vandalized July 4. Stoesz was unaware of any other incidents on the national level.
Stoesz said the Brainerd Police Department was thorough and professional. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and FBI agents continue to have an open file on the arson fire that destroyed the Planned Parenthood clinic and three adjoining businesses Aug. 9, 1994.
Stoesz said the clinic did not receive warnings, although it did have a fake anthrax incident last fall when someone put powder on the door during the national anthrax scare.
"We're really proud of work we do and proud to be in this community," Stoesz said. "We will never leave this community."
The clinic will reopen for its regular schedule Monday.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.