The Tulsa Hospital Shooting Suspect Targeted A Doctor Who Performed Back Surgery For Him Two Weeks Ago

The suspect legally purchased a semiautomatic AR-15–style rifle three hours before killing four people at a hospital.

The suspect in the Tulsa hospital mass shooting targeted a doctor he blamed for his pain after having back surgery two weeks ago, police said Thursday.

Four people were killed in the shooting at the Natalie Medical Building in St. Francis Hospital on Wednesday, including Dr. Preston Phillips, the doctor who treated the shooter. The other three victims are Dr. Stephanie Husen, a sports medicine physician; Amanda Glenn, a receptionist; and William Love, a patient, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said at a press conference.

The suspect, identified by police as Michael Louis, also died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Phillips, an orthopedic surgeon, had performed back surgery on the suspect on May 21, and the suspect was released from the hospital on May 24, according to police.

He called Phillips multiple times over the next few days "complaining about pain and wanting more treatment," Franklin said. He saw Phillips again on May 31 for further treatment, and on the day of the shooting, he had called the doctor once more asking for help with his pain.

"Louis was in pain, Louis expressed that he was in pain and was not getting relief," Franklin said.

"The doctor's office was receptive and responsive in attempting to administer care to the patient," the police chief added.

After the suspect fatally shot himself, officers found a letter on him that "made it clear that he came in with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips and anyone who got in his way," Franklin said.

Cliff Robertson, the St. Francis Health System president, said the hospital was not aware of any concerns from Phillips about the patient.

Police arrived three minutes after receiving the first 911 call shortly before 5 p.m., Franklin said. Dispatch received multiple calls after that, including from people who located the shooting on the second floor of the five-story building.

The officers reached the second floor as they heard a gunshot. Police said they believe it was from the shooter killing himself.

According to Franklin, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office received a call from someone identifying herself as the suspect's wife after the shooting. She told authorities that her husband had killed people at the doctor's office, but that she had not known beforehand that he was planning the shooting.

"He contacted her either before the shooting took place or during the shooting to let her know what he had done," he said.

The suspect legally bought a semiautomatic AR-15–style rifle three hours before the shooting, authorities said. (Oklahoma has no law mandating a waiting period for firearm purchases.) He had also purchased a semiautomatic handgun from a local pawn shop on May 29.

Phillips was an orthopedic surgeon who focused on spinal surgery and joint reconstruction, according to his profile on the St. Francis Health System website. He completed multiple fellowships during his career, including two at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. Phillips also had advanced degrees in organic chemistry and pharmacology as well as theology from Emory University, his profile states, and he was a fellow of the American Orthopedic Association, the Scoliosis Research Society, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

"His clinic cannot always be on time because he will spend every minute with patients that they need," Robertson, the hospital's president, told reporters. "Not only is [his death] a shock, it is the ultimate loss for St. Francis and for Tulsa."

Husen specialized in sports and internal medicine at the Warren Clinic and had graduated from Oklahoma State University's medical school in 2000. She also completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Glenn, the office's receptionist, had worked in the medical field for 18 years and is survived by her husband and two sons, Tulsa police said.

"Her family says she was always had the brightest smile and kindest spirit," a post on the police department's Facebook page said.

Love, who was at the doctor's office with his wife, had served in the US Army for 27 years and retired as a first sergeant, police said. His wife survived the shooting.

"William Love's family would like us to share that at the time of shooting, William heard the gunshots and knew his wife would not be able to escape the building on her own," police said. "He sacrificed his life for her."

Love is also survived by his brother, two daughters, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

The shooting — which happened on the 101th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre — is the latest in a recent string of deadly mass shootings in the United States. Eight days prior, an 18-year-old shot up an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and 2 adults. Ten days before that, another 18-year-old attacked a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people.

All three alleged shooters purchased their AR-style weapons legally.

Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic, one that the American Public Health Association characterizes as a public health crisis. It is a leading cause of premature death in the country, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually. At least 233 mass shootings have taken place so far this year, and at least 18,190 people have died from gun violence, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

Correction: Amanda Glenn’s name was misstated in an earlier version of this post due to inaccurate information supplied by police during the press conference.

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