Tulsa police release motive, victims’ names in Wednesday’s St. Francis shooting

Publisher’s note: While this event did not take place in Sapulpa, we consider it too close to home to simply go without addressing it at all. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the families of the lives lost at St. Francis on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin joined St. Francis CEO Cliff Robertson, Associate Chief Medical Officer Ryan Parker, and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum to update on the June 1st shooting at St. Francis’ Natalie building that left 5 people dead, including the shooter.

The scene at St. Francis’ on June 1st during an active shooter situation at the Natalie Building. Photo by Sarah Norwood.

In the press conference, Chief Franklin gave a detailed timeline of the events as they unfolded, and released the names of the victims to the public. They were identified by Franklin as Dr. Preston Phillips, Dr. Stephanie Husen, Amanda Glenn, and William Love.

Dr. Phillips is believed to have been the primary target of the attack, which was perpetrated by one of his patients who said he was suffering pain as the result of recent back surgery.

In his statement, Franklin said that the shooter went into the hospital for back surgery on May 19th and was released on May 24th. “(The suspect) complained of pain, and wanted additional treatment,” Franklin explained. “Dr. Phillips saw (the suspect) again for additional treatment.”

On Wednesday, June 1st, the suspect again called Dr. Phillips, seeking additional treatment.

According to the Tulsa Police investigation, the shooter purchased a semi-automatic “AR-15-style” rifle at 2 pm that day and had also purchased a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol on May 29th.

Franklin says at 4:52 pm, a 911 call came in from a third party at the medical center, who said they were told to call by a doctor, who informed the caller there was a shooting.

At 4:55 pm, another caller clarified the Natalie building—a 5-story medical complex—as the scene of the shooting. Tulsa police entered the building on the first floor and made their way to the second floor, alerting occupants that they were in the building. Franklin says the officers reported hearing a single gunshot, which they now believe was the shooter taking his own life.

A letter was recovered at the scene that Franklin says was “very clear” that the shooter came in with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips, “and anyone who got in his way.”

Sometime later, Tulsa Police received a call from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, who said a woman claiming to be the wife of the shooter had received a call from her husband, letting her know what he had done. Franklin says that they are “still working through that situation,” but that they do not believe the woman had any prior knowledge of the attack.

Cliff Robertson, the CEO of St. Francis, said that he took the time to pray over all the areas where the victims had lain, “including the perpetrator.”

“It is up to us to not allow this horrible event to make us want to turn our back on the reason we’re here,” Robertson said. “We’re all called into this profession to care for others, and care for our community. All I ask is to continue to support this community with your prayers and know that St. Francis will come out of this even stronger still.”

Dr. Ryan Parker, the Associate Chief Medical Officer, said the St. Francis family is “devastated.”

“All of my colleagues went into medicine to help people. This was a calling. They died while serving others,” she said. “They died in the line of duty.”

Parker said the job of the staff at St. Francis is “to help and to heal, and we are here to do our job, even if it’s with broken hearts.”

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum spoke of his appreciation for local and surrounding law enforcement agencies, and their quick handling of the situation. He also looked around at all the staff who had gathered and said, “I want to thank you for coming to work today. Every day. For years, through the worst public health crisis we’ve ever faced, you put yourselves at risk. I hope you know how much it’s appreciated.”