On October 23, 1998, Doctor Barnett Slepian died from a gunshot wound while he was inside his home in Amherst, New York. Slepian was known as an abortion doctor. He was thought to have been killed by an anti-abortion radical. His death was the fifth year that an abortion doctor practicing in either upstate New York or Canada became the subject of a sniper attack. Unlike Slepian, the first four victims were lucky to not have had any fatal wounds.
It was observed that all of the attacks were made somewhere between late October and early November. Speculations arose that the chosen dates were intentionally picked so that people would associate the incidents to Canada’s Remembrance Day which was celebrated annually on November 11th.
Investigators from Canada and the United States had reason to believe that the “Atomic Dog” James Charles Kopp was accountable for Slepian’s death. Kopp reportedly was seen lingering within the vicinity of Slepian’s home weeks before the killing. However, the terrorist group Army of God member was no longer to be seen right after the incident which caused investigators to be suspicious.
Slepian’s murder left a trace of scare for the remaining abortion doctors where at least four of them left their practice in upstate New York. Even the clinic staff became frightened by what happened and went on to leave their jobs. It did not also help that groups such as the American Coalition of Life Activists publicly supported violence against those who were engaged in the practice of abortion. It was believed that the fear that gripped the nation limited women’s ability to abort unwanted pregnancy in certain portions of the country.
Slepian’s murder was a clear evidence that the anti-abortion terror was getting out of hand and thus, the authorities tried their best to suppress it in any way they can with the intent that violent incidents surrounding it could be prevented. These efforts paid off. In 1999, there was no news of sniper attacks for the first time in six years. Kopp on the other hand was still at large by the end of the 20th century. He managed to land on FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and the Justice Department issued a $500,000 reward for his head. The authorities were finally able to catch up with him in March 2001 – he hid in Europe. France deported him to US soil but with the understanding that the government will in no way impose a death penalty for the charges filed against him. Kopp was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on May 9, 2003.