A deranged gunman with a rifle and a handgun who killed four people at an Oklahoma medical building targeted a doctor who previously operated on him “and anyone who got in his way,” authorities said Thursday.
The gunman, identified as Michael Louis, opened fire at about 5 p.m. Wednesday at an orthopedic office on the second floor of the Natalie Medical Building at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Police Chief Wendell Franklin told reporters at a press conference.
Louis went to the hospital on May 19 for back surgery, which was performed by Dr. Preston Phillips. Louis was later released on May 24, Franklin said.
Louis then called several times to complain of pain and sought additional treatment. He then saw Phillips on May 31 and called the doctor’s office again on Wednesday seeking additional help, Franklin said.
A webpage on Saint Francis’ website identified Phillips as a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery and joint reconstruction.
Earlier Wednesday, Louis legally bought a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle from a local gun store and purchased a semi-automatic handgun on May 29 from a local pawn shop, Franklin said.
Cops recovered dozens of spent shell casings from the shooting scene, as well as a letter penned by Louis that made it clear he intended to kill Dr. Phillips and “anyone who got in his way” following the surgery he claimed had left him ailing.
“He blamed Dr. Phillips for the ongoing pain following the surgery,” Franklin told reporters.
In addition to Phillips, Franklin identified Wednesday’s shooting victims as Dr. Stephanie J. Husen, Amanda Green and William Love.
Cops arrived at the hospital campus about three minutes after dispatchers were called for an active shooter and made contact with the gunman at 5:01 p.m., Tulsa police Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish told reporters Wednesday.
Officers heard shots being fired at an orthopedic office on the second floor of the Natalie Medical Building at Saint Francis Hospital.
“That’s what directed them to the second floor,” Dalgleish said Wednesday. “Right now, we have four civilians that are dead. We have one shooter that is dead. Right now, we believe that is self-inflicted.”
The shooting scene was “fairly limited” to the building’s second floor, Dalgleish said, adding that detectives were interviewing witnesses late Wednesday.
No officers were injured, Dalgleish said.
The suspect’s identity was not released Wednesday, but Dalgleish identified him as a black male believed between the ages of 35 and 40.
“We have confirmed he had one long gun — a rifle — and one handgun on the scene at the time,” the deputy chief said.
The Saint Francis Health System said late Wednesday it was grieving the loss of “four members of our family,” but did not identify the victims.
“As a faith-based organization, the only recourse we have at this moment is to pray while we navigate this tragedy,” officials said in a statement. “Out of respect for the families, we are not commenting on or releasing names of those lost or injured at this time.”
All appointments at the orthopedic clinic in the Natalie Building will be “closed until further notice,” Saint Francis officials said.
Wednesday’s attack marked the 233rd mass shooting in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines such incidents as at least four people being shot or killed excluding the shooter.
The attack occurred just one week after an 18-year-old gunman slaughtered 19 students and two teachers on May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Flags throughout Oklahoma were ordered to be flown at half-staff for four days in the aftermath of the mass shooting, officials said.