Shannon was convicted in a Kansas state court for the attempted murder of Doctor George Tiller by shooting him in his car in Wichita, Kansas in 1993. She was also convicted in U.S. federal court for ten attacks at abortion clinics using arson or acid. At her sentencing in U.S. District Court in 1995, the presiding judge described Shannon as a terrorist and agreed with prosecutors that she was a threat even from behind bars. She served her sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minnesota and was released to a halfway house on probation in May 2018.
Involvement in anti-abortion movement
After the murder of an abortion provider in Pensacola in 1993, Shannon wrote at least 25 letters to the perpetrator, calling him a "hero" and "brave soldier" and describing her disillusionment with nonviolence. She also traveled to Kentucky to visit John Brockhoeft, convicted of firebombing a Cincinnati abortion clinic.
Attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller
Shannon was a resident of Grants Pass, Oregon, and had been a part of the anti-abortion movement for at least five years at the time she shot Tiller. She had written in support of Michael Griffin, the murderer of David Gunn, calling Griffin "the awesomest, greatest hero of our time." Tiller's Wichita clinic was the site of frequent demonstrations and incidents of direct action by those opposed to abortion and of counter-demonstrations by abortion rights activists. Under cover of such a fracas, Shannon shot Tiller with a semiautomatic pistol.
Trial and imprisonment
At her trial in state court, Shannon testified that there was nothing immoral about trying to kill Tiller. The jurors needed only an hour to convict her of attempted murder. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
On June 4, 1995, she pleaded guilty to setting fires at several abortion clinics in Oregon, California and Nevada. She had been indicted by federal grand juries on 30 counts in connection with fires and butyric acid attacks at nine clinics. Charges included arson, interference with commerce by force and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. On September 9, 1995, U.S. Federal District Court Judge James A. Redden sentenced Shannon to 20 years in prison—a substantial upward departure from sentencing guidelines. In sentencing her, Redden called her a terrorist. He sided with prosecutors who contended that Shannon was a threat even from behind bars. The federal sentence was set to begin only after the completion of Shannon's 11-year state incarceration for shooting Tiller.
Her daughter, Angela Shannon (born c. 1974), was prosecuted for sending a death threat in 1993 to George Woodward, a Milwaukee doctor who performed abortions. (The letter arrived on March 3, 1993 — a week before the murder of David Gunn.) The elder Shannon attempted to take the blame for the death threat, but in view of Angela's fingerprints having been found on the letter, Angela was convicted and sentenced to 46 months' incarceration in 1997.
In 1998, Shelley Shannon filed a lawsuit contending that the sewerage system in the Kansas prison was inadequate, and that sewage backups created unhealthful conditions for the inmates. Her lawsuit was dismissed by Federal District Court Judge Kathryn Vratil in Kansas City, Kansas. The dismissal was upheld by a 2-1 vote of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, stating there wasn't sufficient proof the warden knew about the sewer problems. Before Shannon's attorney could refile, the sewer system and other problems were corrected.
- Benjamin Brink. "Previous stories about Shelley Shannon | OregonLive.com". Blog.oregonlive.com. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
- Ostrow, Ronald J. (23 October 1994). "Charges are expected against an extremist in prison for attempted murder". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
...Rachelle Shannon, an anti-abortion extremist in prison for the attempted murder of an abortion doctor...
- "Antiabortion Extremist Indicted in Attacks on Clinics in West". The Washington Post. 25 October 1994. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
Rachelle Shannon, an antiabortion extremist in prison for trying to murder a doctor, has been charged in 10 arson and acid attacks at abortion clinics in the West, the Justice Department said yesterday.
- Thomas, Judy (7 February 2010). "Feds still exploring charges in Tiller murder after guilty verdict". McClatchy. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
Shelley Shannon is a martyr and hero of this group of extremists who believe in justifiable homicide.
- Phillips, Don. (August 22, 1993). "Violence Hardly Ruffled Protest Ritual." The Washington Post. Retrieved June 10, 2006.
- NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. (2006). Clinic violence and intimidation Archived 2010-02-11 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- Crow, Karen (August 19, 2005). "A Violent Week in August". Choice! Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-12-12. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- "Woman Gets 20-Year Sentence In Attacks on Abortion Clinics". Oregon; California; Nevada: NYTimes.com. 1995-09-09. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
- The Washington Post, Antiabortion Extremist Indicted in Attacks on Clinics in West , October 25, 1994. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- "Report: Two accused of killing doctors corresponded". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. August 22, 1993.
- Denson, Bryan (1 June 2009). "Slain abortion doctor shot by Oregon woman in 1993". The Oregonian. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
- Ryan, Harriet (March 11, 2003). "Kopp fifth clinic shooter to face trial". Court TV. Archived from the original on September 21, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- Time Magazine, The Week March 20-26, April 4, 1994. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
- THE SECOND DEFENSIVE ACTION STATEMENT Army of God website, retrieved 2010-11-11.
- New York Times, Guilty Plea Expected In Fires at Clinics, June 4, 1995. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- Denny Walsh, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, '93 LETTER, Jun 6, 1996. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- FindLaw.com, USA v SHANNON 97-10057. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- Robert Boczkiewicz, The Topeka Capital-Journal, Sewage lawsuit dismissal upheld, Jul 11, 2001. Retrieved January 9, 2007.[dead link]