Hundreds to attend funeral for slain Kan. doctor
Associated Press Writer
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Hundreds of mourners are expected to gather at a Wichita church Saturday for the funeral of a slain Kansas abortion provider.
George Tiller, 67, was shot in the head Sunday as he handed out programs while ushering at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. The gunman then assaulted two other ushers before fleeing.
Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old abortion opponent, was arrested a few hours later just outside Kansas City. He was charged two days later with the attack at the church where he had occasionally attended services two months before.
Tiller’s funeral will be at another Wichita church, College Hill United Methodist, to accommodate a large crowd. The facility can hold up to 1,000 people.
The Kansas doctor also had longstanding ties to that church. Its former pastor had served as a chaplain at the Wichita clinic where Tiller and other doctors performed late-term abortions.
College Hill’s current pastor, the Rev. John Martin, said that “the grief is intensified” because Tiller was killed in a house of worship.
“We all know that shootings happen in church, I am always disconcerted when they do. Suddenly, it really struck home,” Martin said.
For years, abortion opponents have demonstrated outside Tiller’s church. But it was uncertain whether the anti-abortion protests that marked Tiller’s clinic would appear at his funeral.
Members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church, the group infamous for picketing funerals of slain soldiers, have announced plans to protest. But other abortion foes have said they will not demonstrate at Saturday’s services.
“The best thing I can do is to stay away,” said Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.
The U.S. Marshals Service and the Wichita Police Department will provide security at the funeral.