TULSA, Okla., (Reuters) – A gunman, who fatally shot five people including himself at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical building after buying an assault-style rifle the same day, had gone to there to kill a doctor who he blamed for back pain he felt after surgery, authorities said on Thursday.
The suspect, identified as Michael Lewis, entered a building on the St. Francis Health System campus with an AR-15-style weapon and opened fire at anyone he encountered, killing two doctors and two other people, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said during a news briefing.
The suspect “came in with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips and anyone who came in his way,” Franklin said. Authorities found a letter on Lewis that made it clear that the attack was targeted.
Dr. Preston Phillips, 59, the surgeon who treated Lewis, was killed along with Dr. Stephanie Husen, a 48-year-old sports medicine specialist. Authorities named two other fatalities as Amanda Green and William Love. It was unclear whether they were patients or staff members.
Lewis was released from the hospital on May 24 after back surgery. After his release, he called several times complaining of pain, Franklin said.
The shooting comes on the heels of two other mass killings that have stunned Americans and reopened a long-standing debate over tightening controls on firearms ownership and the role of mental health in the epidemic of gun violence plaguing the United States.
Lewis purchased the semi-automatic rifle he brought to the hospital at a local gun shop earlier on Wednesday, authorities said. He also brought a pistol that he purchased at a pawn shop three days earlier.
Police arrived three minutes after receiving a call at 4:53 p.m. CDT (2053 GMT) of a shooting at the hospital.
Officers raced into the building and followed the sound of gunfire up to the second floor, and made contact with the victims and the suspect five minutes later, the chief said.
Officers at the scene said they heard a gunshot five minutes later, which Franklin said was the gunman taking his own life.