Shelley Shannon

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Shelley Shannon
Rachelle Ranae Pauli

(1956-03-31) March 31, 1956 (age 68)
Criminal statusReleased
(November 2018)
David Shannon
(m. 1974)
Conviction(s)Attempted murder, arson, interference with commerce by force, interstate travel in aid of racketeering
Criminal penalty23 years in prison
CountryUnited States
Target(s)Abortion providers and clinics in Oregon, California, Nevada, and Kansas
InjuredGeorge Tiller (shot)
WeaponsHandgun, fire bombing
Imprisoned atWaseca FCI (1995–2018)

Rachelle Ranae "Shelley" Shannon (born March 31, 1956)[1] is an American anti-abortion extremist[2][3][4] who was convicted in a Kansas state court for the attempted murder of George Tiller by shooting him in his car in Wichita, Kansas in 1993.[5][6][7] 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.[8] She served her sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minnesota and was released in November 2018.[9][10]

Involvement in anti-abortion movement[edit]

Shannon became involved in the anti-abortion movement around 1988.[11] She was arrested several times for trespassing and physically obstructing access to clinics.[6]

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.[12] She traveled to Kentucky to visit John Brockhoeft, convicted of firebombing a Cincinnati abortion clinic.[12]

Attempted murder of George Tiller[edit]

On August 19, 1993, Shelley Shannon shot physician George Tiller in both arms, while he was in his car outside his Wichita, Kansas abortion clinic.[5][6][7]

Shannon was a resident of Grants Pass, Oregon,[13] 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.[14]

Tiller was assassinated on May 31, 2009, by Scott Roeder.

Trial and imprisonment[edit]

At her trial in state court, Shannon testified that there was nothing immoral about trying to kill Tiller.[14] The jurors needed only an hour to convict her of attempted murder.[15] She was sentenced to 11 years in prison.[14]

While incarcerated in Lansing, Kansas, Shannon signed the Army of God's statement in support of the actions of Paul Jennings Hill, identifying herself as a "prisoner of Christ".[16]

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.[11][17] 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.[8]

Her daughter, Angela Shannon,[18] 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.[19] Her sentence was finished in 2001.[citation needed]

In 1998, Shannon filed a lawsuit contending that the sewage 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.[20]

Shannon had been in ongoing contact with controversial anti-abortionist Donald Spitz during her incarceration at Waseca federal prison as well as at the time of her release.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Benjamin Brink (June 2, 2009). "Previous stories about Shelley Shannon |". Archived from the original on January 17, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  2. ^ Ostrow, Ronald J. (October 23, 1994). "Charges are expected against an extremist in prison for attempted murder". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 8, 2018. ...Rachelle Shannon, an anti-abortion extremist in prison for the attempted murder of an abortion doctor...
  3. ^ "Antiabortion Extremist Indicted in Attacks on Clinics in West". The Washington Post. October 25, 1994. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 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.
  4. ^ Thomas, Judy (February 7, 2010). "Feds still exploring charges in Tiller murder after guilty verdict". McClatchy. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2018. Shelley Shannon is a martyr and hero of this group of extremists who believe in justifiable homicide.
  5. ^ a b Phillips, Don. (August 22, 1993). "Violence Hardly Ruffled Protest Ritual Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine." The Washington Post. Retrieved June 10, 2006.
  6. ^ a b c NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. (2006). Clinic violence and intimidation Archived February 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  7. ^ a b Crow, Karen (August 19, 2005). "A Violent Week in August". Choice! Magazine. Archived from the original on December 12, 2006. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  8. ^ a b "Woman Gets 20-Year Sentence In Attacks on Abortion Clinics". The New York Times. Oregon; California; Nevada. September 9, 1995. Archived from the original on December 7, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "Woman who shot Wichita abortion doctor released from prison | the Kansas City Star". Archived from the original on May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  10. ^ "Rachelle Shelley Shannon Released". The Washington Times.
  11. ^ a b The Washington Post, Antiabortion Extremist Indicted in Attacks on Clinics in West Archived August 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, October 25, 1994. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
  12. ^ a b "Report: Two accused of killing doctors corresponded". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. August 22, 1993.
  13. ^ Denson, Bryan (June 1, 2009). "Slain abortion doctor shot by Oregon woman in 1993". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c 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.
  15. ^ Time Magazine, The Week March 20-26 Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, April 4, 1994. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
  16. ^ THE SECOND DEFENSIVE ACTION STATEMENT Archived October 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Army of God website, retrieved November 11, 2010.
  17. ^ New York Times, Guilty Plea Expected In Fires at Clinics, June 4, 1995. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
  18. ^ Denny Walsh, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, '93 LETTER, June 6, 1996. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
  19. ^, USA v SHANNON 97-10057 Archived December 13, 2005, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
  20. ^ Robert Boczkiewicz, The Topeka Capital-Journal, Sewage lawsuit dismissal upheld, July 11, 2001. Retrieved January 9, 2007. Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Anti-abortion fire bomber Shelley Shannon released in Oregon". oregonlive. Associated Press. November 8, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2022.