Accused Planned Parenthood shooter was once 'go-to man' for SC artwork

Published: Nov. 30, 2015 at 9:43 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2015 at 9:20 PM EST
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When folks see the mugshot of Robert Dear, many now recognize him as the man accused of killing three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Friday.

RELATED: See the scene of the shooting in Colorado.

But some thousand miles away here in the Columbia area, Dear was known as the "go-to man" for exclusive artwork.

Donna Kirkland has known 57-year-old Dear for more than 20 years. She and her husband own a custom framing shop in Lexington, where she says Dear came at least twice a year.

Kirkland says he had exclusive pieces from local artists such as Bill Stroud and Art LaMay.

On several occasions, Kirkland says Dear brought along his wife and son whom he seemed to have a close relationship with.

Kirkland says she was in disbelief when Dear was identified as the "Planned Parenthood shooter." The Robert Dear she remembers was a friendly, hard-working family man who took an interest in politics.

"We talked a lot about who was President or what might be going on in the White House, or this or that, never a negative thing. He voiced his opinion but never anything out of the ordinary," Kirkland says. "Something caused him to decide that he wanted to make a difference or make a statement, which is a horrible way to do that."

Kirkland says the topic of abortion, or Planned Parenthood, was never mentioned. She says she last spoke to Dear in 2013.

However, Mark Johnson, who says he also knew Dear, paints a different picture of the man.

Back in the 90's Johnson says he and Dear worked together for about five years.

Johnson is in the custom framing business and purchased several paintings from Dear who sold art across the Midlands. Johnson says he stopped doing businesses with Dear in the early 2000's after he claims Dear ripped off an exclusive painting by a local artist.

Remembered as a big guy, standing about 6'2 and weighing a couple of hundred pounds, Johnson says Dear was always well-shaven and dressed professionally. However, Johnson told us he always felt a creepy air about him which always made him and his employees uncomfortable.

"He was a big creepy, sleazy guy," Johnson says. "He wouldn't look you in the eyes, he would try to make a deal he probably shouldn't be making with us. Always wanted to be paid for something he might do later for you. The last year or two it was just, 'leave the prints, here is the check, I'll call you if I need any more. Don't come see us again. We'll call you if we need anymore.'"

Bond was denied for Dear during a hearing Monday.

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