Gunman kills four people and self at Saint Francis medical office

July 1, 2022

CHA calls for sensible gun policy now

By JULIE MINDA

A gunman killed four people and himself June 1 in a medical office building on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, part of Saint Francis Health System. The victims were Dr. Preston J. Phillips, an orthopedic surgeon at Saint Francis; Dr. Stephanie J. Husen, an internist whose areas of specialty included sports medicine; Amanda Glenn, a medical assistant; and William Love, a patient.


Emergency personnel respond to a shooting at the Natalie Medical Building on the Saint Francis Hospital campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 1. A gunman killed four people and himself at an orthopedic and sports medicine clinic in the facility.
Ian Maule/Tulsa World via Associated Press

At a press conference June 2, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said the 45-year-old gunman had gone to the Saint Francis campus' Natalie Medical Building with a semiautomatic rifle he purchased that day and a handgun to murder Phillips and, "anyone who got in his way," as a letter the killer had on his person said. Franklin said the gunman blamed Phillips for ongoing pain he suffered following a May 19 back surgery that Phillips had performed on him.

During the press conference, Dr. Cliff Robertson, president and chief executive of Saint Francis Health System, said the murders had changed Saint Francis, but "it's up to us to not allow this horrible event and this situation to make us want to turn our back on the reason we are here." Asking for prayers and support for the Saint Francis community, he vowed "Saint Francis will come out of this even stronger still." He said he had confidence that the call to care would not be diminished at Saint Francis.

Dr. Ryan Parker, Saint Francis Health System associate chief medical officer and an emergency medicine physician, said at the press conference, "Our job is to heal, and we are here to do our job even if it's with broken hearts." Parker said she and her clinical colleagues had just been starting to process the toll the pandemic had taken on them as individuals. The murders compound their trauma and distress.

Parker said when she awoke the morning after the shooting, she "wanted this to be a bad dream, but this is the reality of our world right now, and today our world and our Saint Francis community are devastated."

Coordinated effort
Franklin gave a timeline of the police response at the press conference. The first 911 call came in at in at 4:52 p.m. on June 1, he said. The caller had been on a video chat with a doctor who was in the Warren Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine office where all of the shots were fired. The doctor asked the caller to tell the 911 operator a shooting was occurring. Subsequent calls to 911 enabled officers to determine that the killer had fired the shots on the second floor of the five-story Natalie Medical Building on the Saint Francis campus.


On its Facebook page, Saint Francis Health System said its therapy dog team, Pink Paws, had been working overtime to support Saint Francis staff. A June 1 shooting in a medical building on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital has devastated the Saint Francis community.

Franklin said officers entered the building at 4:56 p.m. As they arrived on the second floor and advanced to where callers had said the gunman was, they heard a gunshot that they believed to be the killer's suicidal shot. Police located all the victims in the orthopedics and sports Medicine office and cleared people out of the building.

During the briefing, Franklin praised the many law enforcement agencies and the Saint Francis security team for the quick response, saying their coordinated effort was a result of much training.

Also speaking at the press conference was Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. He lauded the Saint Francis staff for heroically serving the community, especially during the pandemic, and for coming to work to care for patients after the horrific violence the campus had experienced the day prior. He said while there was nothing that the people of Tulsa could do to take away the pain the staff was feeling, "we will walk with you every step of the way."

Shutdown
The Warren Clinic is the employed physician arm of Saint Francis Health System. According to information posted on Saint Francis' Facebook page, in the shooting's aftermath all Warren Clinic outpatient appointments at locations in Tulsa and Broken Arrow were cancelled until noon June 2; and Saint Francis closed the orthopedic office and established a call center to follow up with patient questions on appointments.

Saint Francis held a Mass for employees June 2 and is offering them support services, counseling, pastoral care, pet therapy and services from the employee assistance program. Saint Francis also set up a fund to aid the victims' families as well as employees affected by the shooting (see sidebar).

In tribute to the victims, Saint Francis lit its campus in pink in the evenings following the shooting. "This color has been our identity for 62 years. To us, it represents strength, family, faith and our commitment to the community. Today, it represents our love and prayers for those we have lost, their grieving loved ones and our own Saint Francis family," the system wrote on its Facebook page June 2.

It wrote in the post, "Saint Francis is a family. We are a ministry. We are caregivers. We are one. We are mourning."

Ministry response
In her opening remarks at the Catholic Health Assembly in Indianapolis June 5, CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, called for a moment of silence to remember victims of recent heinous mass killings at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, and on the Saint Francis campus. "We will continue to work for sensible gun policy. The time for action is now!" she said.

Dr. Rhonda Medows, the outgoing chair of the CHA Board of Trustees, told the audience of Catholic health care leaders at the national assembly that hate crimes and gun violence in schools, churches, groceries, hospitals are impacting and taking away precious lives.

"Our places of healing should never be a war zone. This cannot be allowed to prevail."

Saint Francis sets up employee emergency fund

In the aftermath of the mass shooting on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 1, Saint Francis worked with the Tulsa Community Foundation to establish an employee emergency fund. The Tulsa Community Fund helps organizations with fundraising.

Donations to the employee emergency fund will support the victims' families as well as employees affected by the tragedy.

For information on how to donate, visit: tulsacf.org/saintfrancisstrong/

 

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