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Tulsa shooting gunman targeted surgeon he blamed for pain, police say

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Tulsa mass shooter bought gun just before rampage 02:15

A man who blamed his surgeon for continuing pain after a recent back operation bought an AR-style rifle Wednesday and carried out a shooting that same day at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical office, killing the doctor and three other people in an attack that ended with him taking his own life, police said Thursday. The gunman called the clinic repeatedly complaining of pain and specifically targeted the doctor who performed the surgery, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said.

That physician, Dr. Preston Phillips, was killed, along with Dr. Stephanie Husen, receptionist Amanda Glenn and patient William Love, Franklin said. The attack occurred on the campus of Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa. The chief identified the shooter as Michael Louis, 45, of Muskogee, Oklahoma.

A letter found on the gunman "made it clear that he came in with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips and anyone who got in his way," Franklin told reporters. "He blamed Dr. Phillips for the ongoing pain following the surgery."

It was the latest in a series of mass shootings in the U.S. including the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and an attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Over the weekend in Taft, Oklahoma, a woman was killed in a mass shooting during a Memorial Day event that also left seven people injured, police said.

Phillips was an orthopedic surgeon with an interest in spinal surgery and joint reconstruction, according to a profile on the clinic's website. He once served as lead physician for Tulsa's WNBA team before the franchise moved out of state, according to the Tulsa World.

Dr. Cliff Robertson, president and CEO of Saint Francis Health System, called Phillips a "consummate gentleman" and "a man that we should all strive to emulate." He said the three employees who were killed were "the three best people in the entire world" and that they "didn't deserve to die this way."

Police believe the gunman bought his weapons legally, Franklin said. The gunman bought an AR-style semi-automatic rifle on the afternoon of the shooting and a handgun on Sunday, the police chief said.

Franklin praised the law enforcement officers, 911 operators and emergency responders for their "immediate response" to the attack. Police responded to the call about three minutes after dispatchers received the report at 4:52 p.m. and made contact with the gunman at 5:01 p.m., authorities said Wednesday.

"Our training led us to take immediate action without hesitation," he said. "That's exactly what officers do and that's what they did in this instance."

The length of time it took police officers in Uvalde to engage the gunman during last week's deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School has become a key focus of that investigation. Officers waited over an hour to breach the classroom where the 18-year-old gunman attacked with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, killing 19 children and two teachers.

The spate of recent gun violence across the country has led to Democratic leaders amplifying their calls for greater restrictions on guns, while Republicans are emphasizing more security at schools. Bipartisan discussions are also being conducted.

The White House said President Biden will deliver a primetime address Thursday night to talk about gun violence.

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