A site dedicated to saving lives became the latest place in America for grief over deadly gun violence Thursday, the day after a man armed with a rifle and pistol shot four people before apparently committing suicide at a medical office building in Tulsa, Okla.
The man did not choose his victims at random, police said in their early reports of the attack, which began just before 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Natalie Medical Building on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital. Witnesses said they heard a hail of gunshots.
More information on the shooter’s victims and motives is expected at a news conference Thursday morning, but Tulsa leaders said the attack struck the heart of their community. “This is the facility, more than any other, that has worked to save the lives of people in this city,” Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum said Wednesday.
When police officers arrived at the entrance to the second-floor offices where the gunman had opened fire, the shooting stopped, Tulsa Police Department Captain Richard Meulenberg said in an interview Wednesday night. Officers entered and found the bodies of the victims and the gunman, he said.
“This wasn’t someone who just decided he wanted to find a hospital full of random people,” said Captain Meulenberg. “He made a conscious decision to come here, and his actions were deliberate.”
Police said the victims may have been a combination of workers and patients. Captain Meulenberg said the number of people with gunshot wounds appeared to be “very low”, but other people were injured as hundreds fled the building. None of the injured had life-threatening injuries, police said, and no officers were injured in the attack.
Police in Tulsa will hold their next press conference at 10:15 a.m. Central Time.
Tired Americans and observers around the world added Wednesday’s shooting to the tally of devastating attacks in recent weeks. Just eight days earlier, 19 students and two teachers were murdered at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Eighteen days earlier, 10 people were killed in a supermarket in Buffalo.
They were just two of the hundreds of mass shootings — defined as a shooting that killed or injured four or more people — recorded in the United States in 2022.
Tulsa Police Department deputy chief Eric Dalgleish said on Wednesday that active shooting protocols were “probably still fresh in everyone’s minds” after criticizing the police’s response to last week’s shooting in Uvalde.
“I’ll say Tulsa is revisiting that topic on a regular basis,” he said.
Gannon Gill, who runs an orthopedic emergency care clinic at the Tulsa medical facility, was finishing an appointment with a new patient on Wednesday when a loud noise startled him, he said in an interview. A few seconds later he heard the sound again.
mr. Gill, a physician’s assistant and a hunter, recognized the sounds as gunfire.
“There was a first ‘What was that?'” Mr. Gill said. He turned to his patient and said, “Let’s go. I don’t like this.”