Doctor Barnett Slepian is shot to death inside his home in Amherst, New York by an anti-abortion radical. His killing marks the fifth straight year that an abortion-providing doctor in upstate New York and Canada became the victim of a sniper attack.
Slepian and his family had just returned from religious services at their synagogue when a bullet shattered the kitchen window and struck him in the back. Each of the five attacks, the first four of which did not result in fatal wounds, occurred in late October or early November.
Investigators in both Canada and the United States believed that James Charles Kopp, known among abortion opponents as “Atomic Dog,” was responsible for Slepian’s murder. Although he had been seen in the vicinity of Slepian’s home in the weeks before the killing, Kopp, a member of the terrorist group Army of God, was nowhere to be found after the incident.
In the aftermath of Slepian’s murder, at least four doctors in upstate New York quit practicing, and countless other clinic staff members left their jobs. Following Slepian’s murder, a serious crackdown on anti-abortion terror cut down the number of violent incidents.
In 1999, for the first time in six years, there were no sniper attacks against any doctors during the course of the year. As the 20th century came to an end, Kopp remained at large, despite a $500,000 reward for information leading to his capture from the Justice Department and his place on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.
In March 2001, the authorities caught up with Kopp in Europe, and he was extradited from France on the condition he would not receive the death penalty. Kopp, whose defense argued he only intended to wound Slepian, was convicted of second-degree murder. On May 9, 2003, Kopp was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.