NORFOLK, Va. — Extremists who said they support the killing of abortion doctors protested Sunday outside the jail holding the suspect in a two-day shooting rampage at abortion clinics that left two women dead and five others injured.
John C. Salvi III, 22, was being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning. He was arrested Saturday by Norfolk police after more than 20 shots were fired into the back doors of a crowded office and shopping complex housing an abortion clinic. No one was injured in that attack.
The arrest three blocks away from the Hillcrest Clinic ended a nationwide manhunt that began Friday morning after a gunman dressed in black stalked into two abortion clinics in Brookline, Mass., and killed the receptionists at each clinic. Four of the five people wounded in the attacks remained hospitalized Sunday. The fifth was released late Saturday.
Authorities said they believe that Salvi, a New Hampshire beauty school student, was responsible for the shootings in Brookline and Norfolk and had already identified him as the suspect in the Brookline case before the Virginia attack.
Massachusetts State Police officials arrived in Norfolk late Saturday to continue their investigation, and Salvi is expected to be extradited to face murder charges in Massachusetts after he is arraigned in Virginia, where he faces the lesser charge of shooting into an occupied building. No extradition hearing date has been set.
Salvi, of Hampton, N.H., has been described by acquaintances as obsessed by religion and abortion. But anti-abortion leaders here said they did not know him and did not know if he had any ties to any anti-abortion organization.
Norfolk police spokesman Larry Hill said officials do not believe that Salvi had any connection to Norfolk area anti-abortion groups. But Hill added that the authorities are still trying to determine why Salvi came to the city Saturday.
Several anti-abortion activists at the protest outside the city jail made it clear that they fully support lethal actions and see the clinic gunman's attacks as another in a series of cases of "justifiable homicide" of abortion providers.
Led by Don Spitz, head of Pro-Life of Virginia, a handful of protesters carried placards in support of Salvi.
"We are here to support you. We love you. Thank you," Spitz shouted through a bullhorn as his group was ringed by police officers and reporters Sunday afternoon.
Some protesters carried pictures of aborted fetuses. One sign read: "John Salvi--Prisoner of War."
The killings in Brookline marked the fourth and fifth murders linked to anti-abortion violence in the last two years. Abortion-rights advocates quickly condemned the attacks, as did President Clinton, who termed it "domestic terrorism."
In Washington, the anti-abortion National Right to Life Committee also was quick to condemn the shootings Friday, saying: "We have always, and continue to, oppose any use of violence to fight the violence of abortion."
In Massachusetts, a security guard who exchanged fire with the gunman called him a "proficient madman."
"He looked like the devil. He had a fierce look in his eyes, and his eyebrows were in a deep frown, and his eyes had a manic quality about them," said Richard J. Seron, who worked at Preterm Health Services in Brookline, the second clinic attacked.
"He made some sort of religious oath. It ran something like this: 'In the name of the mother of God,' " Seron said from his Quincy home.
Atty. Gen. Janet Reno said the shootings underscore the need for an even more intensive federal effort to curb violence and harassment aimed at abortion providers.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) on Sunday said the attacks on the clinics were acts of terrorism, adding that increased federal protection for such facilities might be in order, although it would be expensive.
"Obviously this is murder, terrorism, call it what you will. Let's see if there's anything we can do to stop the violence," Dole said on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation."
Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a staunch opponent of abortion, said he would be reluctant to preempt state laws unless he was convinced it would "help the situation."
"But we're federalizing a lot of things that perhaps we shouldn't," Hyde said on ABC-TV's "This Week With David Brinkley," adding that he was prepared to have the judiciary panel consider the matter.
The clinic-access law passed by Congress last year has given federal law enforcement officials far broader jurisdiction to investigate anti-abortion violence than ever before. Since the law's passage, the Justice Department has established a task force to investigate the possibility of a nationwide conspiracy behind the violence.
A grand jury is meeting in Alexandria, Va., to hear evidence from that task force.
Times wire services contributed to this story.