Five people died, including an orthopaedic surgeon and a sports medicine physician, and multiple others were injured June 1 when an armed man entered a building at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., and began shooting in the offices of an orthopaedic practice and clinic.
The shooting occurred in the facility’s Natalie Building, which is the location of Warren Clinic Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.
Among the four victims were Preston J. Phillips, MD, FAAOS, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Stephanie J. Husen, DO, a sports medicine physician, Tulsa Police Department Chief Wendell Franklin said in a news conference. Amanda Glenn, described as a receptionist in a supervisory position at the practice, and William Love, accompanying his wife, who was at the office as a patient, were also killed.
In addition to Dr. Phillips’ Fellowship in the Academy, he was also a member of the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society. A married father of three, Dr. Phillips, 59, graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1990 and completed his orthopaedic residency at Yale University, followed by two fellowships at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. According to AAOS member Wayne A. Johnson, MD, FAAOS, Dr. Phillips was one of three African Americans practicing orthopaedic surgery in Oklahoma, along with Darnell E. Blackmon, MD, also in Tulsa, and Dr. Johnson in Lawton.
Chief Franklin said Dr. Phillips treated the shooter in the preceding weeks, including a surgical procedure on May 19, after which the shooter contacted the office a number of times complaining of back pain. Chief Franklin said the shooter arrived with a letter saying that he “came in with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips and anyone who got in his way.”
Just before 5 p.m., the shooter, who was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a .40 caliber handgun, entered the building and offices and began shooting both guns. He reportedly had legally purchased the rifle at a local gun shop hours before the shooting and a pistol a few days earlier from a pawn shop. According to the police, the shooter died at the scene, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Tulsa Police Captain Richard Meulenberg said multiple people were wounded and that the medical complex was a “catastrophic scene,” according to a report in the Washington Post. Their injuries were reported to be non–life-threatening.
The shooting “wasn’t random,” Capt. Meulenberg said, in The New York Times. “This wasn’t an individual who just decided he wanted to go find a hospital full of random people. He deliberately made a choice to come here, and his actions were deliberate.”
Saint Francis President and CEO Cliff Robertson, MD, described Dr. Phillips as “a consummate gentleman, a man we should all strive to emulate” and a physician “who [spent] every minute with the patient that they need.” Similarly, he described Dr. Husen as a physician who always placed the well-being of the patient as the top priority. He said Dr. Phillips, who focused on spine surgery as well as joint reconstruction, and staff in the practice were responsive to the shooter’s calls following the surgery.
In an open letter to the AAOS membership June 2, AAOS President Felix H. “Buddy” Savoie III, MD, FAAOS, commented:
“We, united as orthopaedic surgeons, find ourselves coming to terms with a senseless act of violence and unbearable loss in our family and community. There is no justification for the tragic events that took place on the Saint Francis Hospital campus in Tulsa, Okla. A physician’s office SHOULD BE a safe haven for doctors and patients alike, and we must do all we can to prevent these tragedies now and in the future.
“As details unfold, we are heartbroken to learn of the death of our friend and colleague Dr. Phillips along with his colleague Dr. Husen, administrative staff member Ms. Glenn, and Mr. Love. We offer condolences to their families, patients, hospital staff, and the entire Tulsa community. What’s more, we remain steadfast to helping ensure our practices and orthopaedic healthcare centers remain places of comfort, healing, and learning. Workplace violence is unfathomable, unacceptable, and must be stopped.
“As the trusted leaders in advancing musculoskeletal health, we stand with our members and our communities as we grieve over this terrible tragedy.”
Oklahoma State Medical Association President David Holden, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in Oklahoma City, said in a statement that the organization was heartbroken to learn of the loss of lives at the Tulsa hospital.
“Oklahoma’s hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices are places for healing and should be safe for all,” Dr. Holden said. “While there will be much to discuss regarding this tragedy in the days and weeks to come, we stand with our fellow physicians and health professionals in mourning those who were killed and injured due to this devastating event.”
Terry Stanton is the senior medical writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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