A rush of police cars and other first responders flooded the streets and parking lots surrounding the medical office building within minutes of the 911 call. Here’s what we know so far about the Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital shooting.
Tulsa police described a “catastrophic scene” within a medical office building in south Tulsa on Wednesday afternoon, where five individuals were killed and many others were wounded in a mass shooting, reports Tulsa World.
According to Tulsa Police Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish, the shooter was equipped with a rifle and a handgun when he invaded Saint Francis Health System’s Natalie Building, 6475 S. Yale Ave., and started shooting both weapons just before 5 p.m.
The shooting took place on the second level of the Natalie Building, in an orthopedic clinic, according to police. Warren Clinic Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine and orthopedic urgent care, are housed on the second level, according to Saint Francis Hospital’s online directory, with nine physicians mentioned.
The Saint Francis Health System said in a statement posted Wednesday night that it is “grieving the loss of four members of our family,” but it did not disclose the victims or their positions.
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According to the announcement, the orthopedic offices would be closed until further notice.
By Wednesday night, the shooter’s identity had not been revealed, but intel from the Muskogee Police Department suggests he may be from that city and may have planted a bomb in his home before traveling to Tulsa.
The precise moment the shooter started firing is unknown, according to Dalgleish, but the first 911 call was received at 4:52 p.m. At 4:56 p.m., the first officers arrived and heard gunshots, which led them to the second floor, wherein they established contact with the victims and the gunman at 5:01 p.m., according to Dalgleish.
There were several injuries, according to a Tulsa police representative, but the overall number of injured people has not been determined.
Officers went floor by floor searching for possible victims and retrieving those who had been hiding from the assailant.
During a press conference late Wednesday evening, Saint Francis Health Systems CEO Cliff Robertson stated that the most impactful thing someone can do right now is pray.
“There is nothing more this community can do for us than pray for the families and loved ones of the victims of this senseless act,” Robertson said. “It will be a very bumpy road ahead of us.
“There are over 10,000 of us who are part of the Saint Francis Health System that every day commit their lives to taking care of people in need. This horrible, incomprehensible act is not going to change that.”
Mayor G.T. Bynum visited Saint Francis Hospital on Wednesday evening and asked Tulsa residents to think about the doctors and nurses that work there and how important they are to the Tulsa community during a media briefing.
“I know there are so many people out there who want to know what you can do to support the community and Saint Francis Health System through this tragedy,” Bynum said.
“I don’t have one thing right now. I would ask you to think about the Saint Francis Health System and what the people that work there mean to our community, what they mean to you and your family. The heroes who protect you. Think about what you can do to show your support for them in the midst of this tragedy.”
When questioned about the string of mass shootings that have occurred across the country ever since Buffalo, New York, shooting in May, Bynum said he is concentrating on the victims in Tulsa and that policy changes can be discussed later.
“Right now my thoughts are with the victims here, many of whose families don’t even know about this yet,” Bynum said. “If we want to have a policy discussion, that is something to be had in the future, but not tonight. Not tonight.”
Family members of those killed or injured in the shooting were asked to gather to Memorial High School, where a reunification site was set up. Around 8 p.m., Bynum paid a quick visit to those waiting at the school.
A rush of police cars and other first responders flooded the streets and parking lots surrounding the medical office building within minutes of the 911 call, blocking Yale Avenue from 61st Street to at least 65th Street. Over 100 emergency vehicles were present, as were officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the United States Marshals Service.
Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma issued a statement indicating that he has given whatever state resources that Tulsa officials may require.
Kelsey Hoursey, who serves in a different medical building on campus, said she was unable to leave at the end of her shift on Wednesday.
She realized that both exits from the parking lot were closed by police cars when she first went outside the building where she works. She was too terrified to drive home straight immediately, even when she could move her car, after learning from other spectators that cops had reacted to an active shooter in the complex.
“I lost my adult son to gun violence in April, so this hits too close to home. I’m still processing that — and I’ve worked in every one of these buildings over the years,” Hoursey, who works as a clinical assistant at Warren Clinic Gastroenterology, said.
Hoursey walked near her car in the parking lot right across from the Natalie Building’s front entrance, answering anxious texts and phone calls from her other children and family concerned about her welfare.
“I’m going to be praying over these families affected by this today and for the love of Jesus over this country,” she said, shaking her head. “This is historic what is happening in this country right now — it feels like the enemy is growing nearer.”
Robin Cox stood across the street from the Natalie Building, staring at the fortification of law enforcement vehicles covering the building’s entry.
“It breaks my heart. You try not to cry in front of people, but I’m sure I’m going to go home tonight and it’s going to bother me.”
Cox, a 37-year-old mother of four, had just finished her shift at the Springer Building on Yale Avenue’s west side.
“People taking innocent lives. They have families. (They are) taking people from their loved ones.”
Connie Dodson, a Tulsa City Councilor, was at the Saint Francis emergency department when it was secured around 4:20 p.m., she said.
“They locked it down without announcing anything, but then people heard the large presence of police and responders in the area and were getting alerts on their phones,” Dodson said.
According to her, the lockdown remained less than an hour.
“There were approximately 30 people in the ER at the time, but everyone was calm and watching the activity outside and live reports on the TV,” Dodson said.
Jayme Fowler, a city councilor who grew up mere blocks from the shootings, now serves the community on the council.
“It’s just tragic,” he said. “You never think something like this would happen in our sleepy city.”
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