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Tulsa shooter bought his gun hours before attacking his doctor's hospital, police say


We begin this hour with new details about a mass shooting yesterday at a medical building in Tulsa, Okla. A gunman killed four people, and police say he then took his own life. Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said that the gunman bought an AR-15-style rifle and hours later used it to kill his doctor. Franklin says the police department is grieving.


WENDELL FRANKLIN: And we pray. We pray because we all need prayer.

CHANG: Chris Polansky is with member station KWGS in Tulsa and joins us now. Welcome.


CHANG: So I understand that there were lots of new details at today's press conference. Tell us, what did you learn?

POLANSKY: Well, we learned a lot that we didn't know yesterday. Tulsa police identified the shooter as Michael Louis. They say he had back surgery last month performed by Dr. Preston Phillips, the orthopedic surgeon who he allegedly killed. Franklin says Louis complained of pain after that surgery. He actually saw Dr. Phillips again just two days ago. Police say they found a letter on the suspect after the shooting, which made it clear he was targeting Phillips. Lewis allegedly also killed a receptionist, a patient and another doctor. Franklin says the shooter then took his own life. One thing the police emphasized during the press conference is they were on scene and inside searching for the shooter within minutes of the first 911 calls. So a quick response without hesitation, they say.

CHANG: And what can you tell us about the victims specifically?

POLANSKY: So Dr. Phillips, the target had practiced orthopedics for decades. A colleague described him as a consummate gentleman. Dr. Stephanie Husen was a newer orthopedist but was described as an extraordinary one. Amanda Glenn, the receptionist, had a supervisory role. Here's hospital CEO Cliff Robertson.


CLIFF ROBERTSON: I mean, the three best people in the entire world that, you know, are the most committed to doing what they do every day and taking care of others didn't deserve to die this way.

POLANSKY: And the last victim, William Love, was a patient. Dr. Ryan Parker discussed treating him in the emergency room after the shooting.


RYAN PARKER: We so wanted to be able to utilize our skills and training to save these precious lives. To the family of Mr. Love. I'm so sorry we couldn't save you. We are grieving with you.

CHANG: We mentioned that police said the gunman bought the rifle just hours before the shooting. Can you tell us more about that purchase?

POLANSKY: That is right. They say he bought an AR-15-style rifle yesterday just before the shooting and a semiautomatic handgun on Sunday. And both of those purchases were legal. There's no waiting period in Oklahoma.

CHANG: Well, as you've been talking to people there, how have they been reacting to what happened yesterday?

POLANSKY: Well, some people are in shock. Others I talked to are sort of devastated but unsurprised. There was actually another mass shooting this past weekend at a Memorial Day festival in Taft, Okla., about 45 minutes from here; one woman died, seven people were wounded. And, you know, the medical center where this attack happened, Saint Francis, is the biggest hospital in town. Most Tulsans were either born there themselves or know people who were. And it's a place people are proud of. As far as elected officials, so far, it's a lot of thoughts and prayers. Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has ordered flags to half staff. Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum, also a Republican, said yesterday, now is the time to grieve, not talk about potential policy solutions to these mass shootings.

CHANG: That is Chris Polansky with member station KWGS. Thank you, Chris.

POLANSKY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chris Polansky
Chris Polansky is a journalist from New York. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York. His stories have appeared in/on Gothamist / WNYC; the NPR national newscast; Utah Public Radio; Robin Hood Radio / WHDD; The Voice of Harlem / WHCR; The Bridge; the Canarsie Courier; and the Brooklyn Eagle.