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MASS SHOOTING AT SAINT FRANCIS HOSPITAL CAMPUS

Gunman saw his doctor the day before killing him, three others in his medical office

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The shooter who gunned down four people on the campus of Saint Francis Health System on Wednesday was a disgruntled patient determined to kill his doctor and anyone who stood in his way, Tulsa police said Thursday.

The physician, Dr. Preston Phillips, 59, had performed back surgery on Michael Louis, 45, of Muskogee on May 19 and saw him the day before the shooting for a follow-up visit, according to a timeline provided by Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin.

In the interim, Louis called Phillips’ office several times seeking relief for his pain.

After the shooting, Franklin said, police found a letter from Louis that made clear that his intent was to kill Phillips.

“He blamed Dr. Phillips for the ongoing pain following the surgery,” Franklin said at a press conference Thursday.

Public records show that Phillips had no pending or past disciplinary action by the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and that he was sued once by a patient in district court but the case was dismissed.

Natalie Building Shooting

Dr. Ryan Parker and Saint Francis Health System President and CEO Dr. Cliff Robertson speak to journalists on Thursday after a news conference about a mass shooting that left five people dead, including the shooter.

Franklin identified the other victims as Dr. Stephanie Husen, 48; receptionist Amanda Glenn, 40; and William Love, 73, who initially was described as a patient. Police later said Love was accompanying a patient.

“We are supposed to be the ones who are caring for others during tragedies like this,” Dr. Ryan Parker, Saint Francis associate chief medical officer and emergency room physician, said during the press conference in the lobby of Saint Francis Heart Hospital. “To think that our caregivers were the victims is just incomprehensible to me.

“They died while serving others; they died in the line of duty.”

According to Franklin, the gunman used two weapons to shoot his way through the orthopedic center on the second floor of the Natalie Building: a semi-automatic AR-15-style rifle, and a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol.

Louis entered the Natalie Building through a second-floor entrance from the parking garage, Franklin said.

“It is an entry that is open to the public just as any other building, just as you walked in here today,” he said. “There is no one to greet you at that door, so he was able to walk in without any type of challenge.”

Louis bought the AR-15 at a Tulsa gun store less than three hours before the shootings occurred just before 5 p.m., and the pistol was purchased at a Muskogee pawn shop on Sunday, Franklin said.

Both weapons were purchased legally, the chief said.

A bomb threat was cleared late Wednesday at Louis’ residence in Muskogee, police said, adding that that side of the investigation continues.

“I cannot emphasize enough that we train rigorously over and over and over again for not if, but when,” Franklin said, “because we have seen the violence that has taken place throughout the United States, and we will be naive not to think that that would not happen in our jurisdiction.”

Asked whether he could support legislation to address gun violence, such as a red flag law or some kind of background check for gun purchases, Franklin said his job is to execute the law.

“There are legislators that legislate the law, that create the law, and I am more than happy to work with legislators if they want to bend my ear from a law enforcement perspective and ask what we need,” he said. “I am more than willing to sit down and provide that information.”

Franklin praised the work of his officers and other law enforcement personnel who responded to the crisis.

“I hope that each and every citizen that sees an officer today thanks an officer today,” he said, “because this job is hard. It is difficult.”

Franklin said Louis’ wife confirmed with police that he blamed Phillips for his ongoing pain after being discharged May 24 following his surgery.

She said Louis contacted her to let her know what he had done, but Franklin said she was not aware in advance of the shooting.

The Saint Francis shooting came less than two weeks after 19 children and two teachers were shot to death at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

School district police there have drawn criticism — and a U.S. Department of Justice investigation — for their failure to engage the shooter sooner.

Franklin said TPD procedures call for officers to remove the threat of an active shooter, regardless of whether that endangers their own lives.

During Wednesday’s shooting, officers made their way to the second floor, where they yelled “Tulsa police,” Franklin said.

“And advancing towards the suspect location, they heard a gunshot. We believe that was the final gunshot with the suspect taking his own life,” Franklin said. “The gunshot was at 4:58 p.m., approximately 39 seconds after the first officers entered the building.”

Investigators found 30 .223-caliber casings and seven .40-caliber casings at the scene of the shooting.

Dr. Cliff Robertson, president and CEO of Saint Francis Health System, said he is not sure the orthopedic wing of the Natalie Building would ever open again but that no decision has been made.

“I can’t imagine any other path forward other than to have that clinic just go dark, because … we lost three of our colleagues in that clinic,” he said. “I just have a hard time believing that anytime in the near future we would be able to use that space again.”

Robertson did visit the site of the shooting Thursday morning to see it for himself.

“But also so that I could do one thing, which is I represent over 10,000 people that make Saint Francis Health System,” Robertson said. “And I prayed over each of the areas where it was clear that someone had laid, including the perpetrator.”

The day after the shooting, Dr. Parker had prayer on her mind, too.

“Whatever faith you subscribe to — and even if you don’t subscribe to a faith — I will tell you prayer is just a solemn request for help,” she said at the press conference. “And I think we can all agree that our world needs a little bit of help right now.”

Mayor G.T. Bynum said that although the threat the shooter presented is gone, Saint Francis employees still need Tulsans’ support.

“The days ahead of us and the weeks ahead of us, it is so important for this community to show the team here at Saint Francis how much we love you,” Bynum said. Talking directly to the employees who were watching the press conference, he added: “I want to thank all of you for coming to work today.”

How to help

The Tulsa Community Foundation has a Saint Francis Employee Emergency Fund set up to help members of the Saint Francis family. To see what you can do to help, go to tulsacf.org/saintfrancisstrong.

The Tulsa Area United Way has also set up a link where people can "write notes of care and compassion, sending your love and encouragement," at tauw.org/SaintFrancisStrong

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Amanda Glenn's family with expenses. It can be found at bit.ly/GlennFamily.

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