A man who blamed his surgeon for ongoing pain after a recent back surgery bought an AR-style rifle "about an hour" before opening fire at a Tulsa medical office, killing the surgeon and three other people before fatally shooting himself, police said Thursday.
Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said the gunman had recently undergone back surgery and had called the clinic repeatedly complaining of pain.
The shooter targeted the doctor who performed the surgery, blaming him for the pain. That surgeon, Dr. Preston Phillips, was killed Wednesday along with another doctor, a receptionist and a patient.
The other victims were identified as Dr. Stephanie Husen, Amanda Glenn and William Love.
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Franklin said a letter was found on the gunman stating that he intended to kill Phillips and "anyone who got in his way."
The victims and gunman were found on the second floor of the Natalie Medical Building where an orthopedic office is located, police said. The shooter, identified as Michael Louis, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
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Dr. Cliff Robertson, president and CEO of Saint Francis Health System, called Phillips “the consummate gentleman" and “a man that we should all strive to emulate.” He said the three employees who were killed were “the three best people in the entire world” and that they “didn’t deserve to die this way.”
Saint Francis Chief Medical Officer Ryan Parker spoke through tears as she lamented caregivers being the victims in this type of tragedy.
"We are supposed to be the ones that are caring for others in tragedies like this," Parker said. "This is the reality of our world right now, and today our world and our Saint Francis family are devastated. Our job is to help and heal, and we are here to do our job, even if it's with broken hearts."
Authorities investigating the Tulsa shooting executed a search warrant at a home in Muskogee, about 45 miles southeast of Tulsa, in connection with the probe, police said.
Police believe the gunman bought his weapons legally, Franklin said. The shooter bought an AR-style semi-automatic rifle on the afternoon of the shooting and a handgun on Sunday, the police chief said.
Franklin praised the law enforcement officers, 911 operators and emergency for their “immediate response” to the attack Wednesday. Police responded to the call about three minutes after dispatchers received the report at 4:52 p.m. and made contact with the gunman at 5:01 p.m., authorities said Wednesday.
“Our training led us to take immediate action without hesitation,” he said. “That’s exactly what officers do and that’s what they did in this instance."
Wednesday's shooting on the campus of Saint Francis Health System happened the same week that families in Uvalde, Texas, began burying the dead from the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade.
President Joe Biden addressed the carnage in recent years from mass shootings with AR-style rifles in an address Thursday night, noting that many shootings on scales smaller than the Tulsa incident do not make news.
Oklahoma House Democrats on Thursday called for a special session to consider gun safety legislation, but that’s unlikely to happen in a GOP-controlled Legislature that has been pushing for years to loosen firearms restrictions.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is running for reelection, said last week after the Texas shooting that it was too soon to talk about firearms policy. A pro-firearms group, the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, is an influential force at the state Capitol, and the first bill Stitt signed into law after taking office in 2019 was a measure that allows most adults to openly carry firearms without the previously required background check or training.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.