Michael Louis, the Tulsa shooter, targeted Dr. Preston Phillips because he blamed him for his back pain after his back surgery.
Authorities said Thursday that a psychotic gunman who killed four people at an Oklahoma medical building targeted a doctor who had previously operated on him “and anyone who got in his way.”
At a press conference, Police Chief Wendell Franklin said the gunman, identified as Michael Louis, opened fire at an orthopedic office on the second floor of the Natalie Medical Building at Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
On May 19, Louis, 45, of Muskogee, was admitted to the hospital for back surgery with Dr. Preston Phillips. Louis was released on May 24, according to Franklin.
Louis went on to phone multiple times, claiming to be in pain and requesting additional treatment. On Tuesday, he saw Phillips, and on Wednesday, he called the doctor’s office for more treatment, according to Franklin.
It’s unclear what kind of help Louis was looking for.
Phillips is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery and joint reconstruction, according to a webpage on Saint Francis’ website.
He also worked as the team doctor for the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA before they relocated to Dallas, according to the team.
Louis legally acquired a semi-automatic AR-15-style rifle from a nearby gun store about an hour before the incident, and a semi-automatic handgun from a local pawn shop on May 29, according to Franklin.
Following the surgery that he claimed had left him ill, cops recovered dozens of spent shell casings from the shooting scene, as well as a note written by Louis in which he stated that he meant to kill Phillips and “anyone who got in his way,” according to Franklin.
“He blamed Dr. Phillips for the ongoing pain following the surgery,” Franklin told reporters.
Dr. Stephanie J. Husen, receptionist Amanda Glenn, and William Love, who was a patient at the clinic, were among the victims of Wednesday’s shooting, according to Franklin.
Tulsa’s chief cop claimed, “They stood in the way and Louis gunned them down.” “He began firing at anyone who was in his way.”
Following the rampage, Louis committed suicide, according to investigators.
He entered the complex through a second-floor garage, where he parked before “working his way into the building,” according to Franklin.
On Thursday, investigators were checking into whether police had had any previous encounter with Louis.
The family had lived in Muskogee for around five years, according to a woman who lives just a few doors away from Louis, his wife, and their teen daughter.
The neighbor recognized Louis’ wife as Dr. Edith Lubin, and her daughter as “church-going religious people,” according to the neighbor, who did not want her identity published.
“But,” the woman added of Louis, “I’ve never spoken to him.” “They’ve been quiet, good neighbors.”
Dr. Lubin is a family medicine physician in Muskogee, according to several health-care websites. Attempts to contact her were unsuccessful.
Tulsa police Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish told reporters Wednesday that cops arrived on the hospital grounds about three minutes after dispatchers received a call for an active shooter and made contact with Louis at 5:01 p.m.
Officers first heard shots fired from an orthopedic office on the second floor of Saint Francis Hospital’s Natalie Medical Building, according to Dalgleish.
Dalgleish said Wednesday, “That’s what directed them to the second floor.” “Right now, we have four civilians that are dead. We have one shooter that is dead. Right now, we believe that is self-inflicted .”
According to Dalgleish, the shooting scene was “fairly limited” to the second floor of the building, and detectives were interviewing witnesses late Wednesday.
According to Dalgleish, no officers were hurt.
The suspect’s identity was not released on Wednesday, but Dalgleish described him as a black man in his late 30s or early 40s.
“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 announced late Wednesday that “four members of our family” had died, but did not name 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 Natalie Building’s orthopedic clinic would be “closed until further notice,” according to Saint Francis officials.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, Wednesday’s massacre was the 233rd mass shooting in the United States this year. Mass shootings are defined as occurrences in which at least four persons are shot or killed, excluding the shooter.
The attack came less than a week after an 18-year-old gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.
In the aftermath of the deadly shooting, officials ordered flags to be flown at half-staff for four days across Oklahoma.
In the aftermath of the “incomprehensible” shooting, Saint Francis Health System established a fund on Thursday to assist victims’ relatives and employees.
“To be clear, we are not asking for donations, but we know that this is a generous community and people want to do something,” hospital officials said in statement. “This is one option.”
A colleague who went on medical missions with Phillips in Africa said the late doctor was an inspiration to him in a moving tribute posted early Thursday.
“Dr. Phillips, I thought we were preparing to go on a surgical mission in Togo,” Dr. Komi Folly wrote on Facebook. “But I found out yesterday during a shooting at work that a gunman took you away from me, our mission team, your family, your patients and the Togolese people.”
Phillips “always” referred to Folly as his son, and the younger doctor regarded his senior colleague as a father figure.
“You told me last week at work during lunchtime to not stop this project in Togo in case something happens to you,” Folly’s post continued. “I did not know that you were giving me the last advice for our journey.”
Folly is the founder and executive president of the non-profit Light in the World Development Foundation, which aims to improve education and health care in Togo, a country with a population of 8.6 million people and a poverty rate of over 55 percent.
According to the website of Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Folly is now employed as an attending physician.
Folly’s message continued, “I am so sad to see you go without a goodbye.” “Your work will continue. You will be missed. I love you. See you in heaven one day.”
There are an awful lot of doctors guilty of much worse than causing back pain.