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June 2, 2022

Gunman opens fire in Oklahoma medical building, killing 4

Daily Briefing

    A man with a rifle and handgun opened fire in a medical building on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday, killing four and injuring several others, according to authorities.

    Details on the shooting

    According to Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish of the Tulsa Police Department, authorities received a call about a shooting at 4:52 p.m. and arrived at the scene four minutes later. Dalgleish said the shooting is believed to have taken place in one section of the second floor of the Natalie Medical Building at Saint Francis.

    As officers entered the second floor of the building, the gunfire stopped, according to Capt. Richard Meulenberg. As police searched the building, they eventually found the shooter, described as a Black male between 35 and 40 years old, who had apparently shot himself with a pistol, Meulenberg said.

    During the attack, the hospital was locked down, according to Tulsa City Councilor Connie Dodson, who happened to be in the ED at Saint Francis during the shooting. The lockdown lasted less than an hour, Dodson said.

    "There were approximately 30 people in the [ED] at the time, but everyone was calm and watching the activity outside and live reports on the TV," she said.

    Four victims were killed, and a number of others were injured. However, Meulenberg noted that fewer than 10 people were wounded by the gunfire, and that there were other injuries tied to people attempting to flee the building during the shooting. "Imagine a scene of mass chaos," he said. "You can hear gunfire echoing."

    According to Dalgleish, none of those wounded during the attack have life-threatening injuries and no officers were injured.

    Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin on Thursday said the shooter was a former patient who was released from the hospital in May following back surgery and "blamed" his doctor, Preston Phillips, for the chronic pain he experienced afterwards.

    According to Franklin, the shooter purchased an AR-15 style rifle the day of the attack and went to the hospital with the intention to kill Phillips and anyone else who got in his way. Phillips was among those found dead.

    Gannon Gill, a physician assistant at the hospital, said he spoke with a man during the attack who had encountered the gunman. "The shooter told him and his wife to leave and he was not there for him," Gill said.

    The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the attack and was closely monitoring the situation, adding that the White House reached out to local authorities to offer support.

    Reaction

    Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) in a statement said the shooting was "a senseless act of violence and hatred."

    Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum described Saint Francis as "sacred ground." "For decades, this campus has been a place where heroes come to work every day to save the lives of people in our community," he said. "Right now, my thoughts are with the victims. If we want to have a policy discussion, that is something to be had in the future, but not tonight," he added.

    In a statement, Saint Francis said it is "grieving the loss of four members of our community. As a faith-based organization, the only recourse we have at this moment is to pray while we navigate this tragedy."

    Saint Francis CEO Cliff Robertson said, "There will be a very bumpy road, I think, ahead of us."

    "But there are over 10,000 people that are part of the Saint Francis health system that every day commit their lives to taking care of people in need, taking care of everyone in need, and this senseless, horrible, incomprehensible act is not going to change that," he added. (Jiménez/Traub, New York Times, 6/2; Murphy/Wallace, Associated Press, 6/2; Factor, Tulsa World, 6/2; Pietsch et. al., Washington Post, 6/2; Traub, New York Times, 6/2; CBS News, 6/2; Burke/Stelloh, NBC News, 6/2)

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