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At This Hour

Police: 2 Doctors, 2 Others Killed In Tulsa Mass Shooting; Officials In Tulsa Hold News Conference On Shooting; Police: Gunman Blamed Doctor For Pain After Surgery. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 02, 2022 - 11:30   ET




WENDELL FRANKLIN, TULSA POLICE CHIEF: As this job is hard, it is difficult.

DR. CLIFF ROBERTSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, SAINT FRANCIS HEALTH SYSTEM: Thank you, Chief Franklin. I had an opportunity to walk through the clinic this morning, and I did that for two reasons, one of which was so that I could -- I could see it for myself more than just the lobby, which was where I was last night. But also so that I could do one thing, which is I represent over 10,000 people that make up the St. Francis Health System. And I prayed over each of the areas where it was clear that someone had laid including the perpetrator.

And I, last night, send a message to our staff and I just asked them to do two things. One of which is to -- is to ask questions because there are a thousand questions that we're going to -- we're going to need to try to answer over the next couple of days, the next couple of weeks, probably next couple of months. But I also ask them to acknowledge that yesterday will change St. Francis.

And it is up to us to not allow this horrible event, this situation. We can't allow that to make us want to turn our back on the reason that we're here. We were all called into this profession. Whether you're a physician or a caregiver or a support staff, we were all called into this profession to care for others and to care for our community.

And while it's human nature to want to turn our backs right now to want to walk away, we can't do that and we won't do that. So all I ask is for you to just continue to support this organization in this community with your -- with your prayers. And know that -- and know that St. Francis will be -- will come out of this even stronger still.

DR. RYAN PARKER, ST. FRANCIS ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: I'm struggling with the right things to say at this moment and maybe that's because they're truly not any right thing to say. There's no words that can adequately describe the emotions that we have been feeling for the last 18 hours. I'm just going to speak from my heart this morning so I hope you'll bear with me.

First, to the families of our colleagues who were killed, our hearts break for you. In addition to my administrative role as the Associate Chief Medical Officer, I'm a practicing emergency physician. And I had lunch with Dr. Phillips on Tuesday. We work really closely with our orthopedic team in the emergency department. And I know that all of my colleagues went into medicine to help people. This was they're calling like Dr. Robertson said this is just a career for them.

We are supposed to be the ones that are caring for others during tragedies like this. To think that our caregivers were the victims is just incomprehensible to me. They died while serving others. They died in the line of duty. To the family of Mr. Love, our hearts break for you. I was in our emergency department less than and I saw the trauma Hall lined with our trauma team. Our emergency department team staff from the OR, our nurses, techs, and respiratory therapists. They are trained just like our police departments are, we so wanted to be able to utilize our skills and training to save these precious lives.

To the family Mr. Love, I'm so sorry we couldn't save you. We are grieving with you. When I woke this morning, I really just wanted this to all be a bad dream but this is the reality of our world right now. And today our world and our St. Francis family are devastated. We were just starting to process the grief and emotions that being on the frontline of a pandemic had left with us and now this tragedy. But I will reiterate what Cliff said.


PARKER: Our job is to help and heal. And we are here to do our job even if it's with broken hearts. On behalf of our medical staff, I would like to thank our security team and all of the first responders who without hesitation or fear, were on-scene to do what needed to be done. In the emergency department, we have a special relationship with our first responders.

We work very closely with our police department with EMSA and our other EMS agencies. They are part of the team and we work with them on a daily basis. So thank you for being here for us in our time of need. Thank you for being here when we needed you. Thank you for all you do to serve our community.

We have all asked for prayers. And I will reiterate that. Whatever faith you subscribe to, and even if you don't subscribe to a faith, I will tell you that prayer is just a solemn request for help. And I think we could all agree that our world needs a little bit of help right now. I want to leave you with the prayer that's been on my heart since last night.

Lord, I see a world that's dying, wounded by the master of deceit, groping in the darkness haunted by the years of past defeat. But then I see you standing near me shining with compassion in your eyes. Jesus shined down on us. Let your love shine through us in the night. Lord, we want to be your witness. You can take what's wrong and make it right. Thank you.

G. T. BYNUM, MAYOR OF TULSA, OKLAHOMA: I'm G. T. Bynum, the mayor of Tulsa. I want to start if -- I think one of the really important takeaways from the very detailed breakdown that chief Franklin provided us today is just how many agencies and entities have lent their expertise to this response. And I want to thank a number of people who are here today to show their support for this team at St. Francis.

Our Congressman, Kevin Hern, thank you. Our sheriff, Vic Regalado, my colleagues from the Tulsa City Council, Councilor Lakin, Councilor Patrick, Dodson, and Fowler, thank you. Been contacted by the president's administration offering their support, and spoken with Governor Stitt, governor wanted me to let the team here at St. Francis know that he is directed that all flags in Oklahoma are to be lowered to half-staff for the next four nights in honor of each of these four victims.

I really want to thank the first responders yesterday. It is remarkable that we can be here 17 hours after this happen and hear that breakdown from Chief Franklin in such a detailed way of what happened. And that is not just because the Tulsa police department or the St. Francis security team was here all by themselves. It was because there were so many law enforcement experts and first responders here, not just responding to the immediate threat, though, I will never forget.

I spoke with an officer yesterday who is a seasoned veteran of the department. And he was one of the first people to get here. And he said Mayor it was like the beaches of Normandy out there. Everywhere I looked to my left and my right, there were officers running towards that building, jumping over bushes, getting around anything in their way between them and that threat so that they can save people. That is the law enforcement community that we have here in Tulsa.

But I'm also so mindful I went over to the Family Reunification Center last night. And I saw experts there from the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and the Tulsa police department and so many more, leadership from St. Francis, who were they're bringing their expertise in assisting victims of trauma to provide the best care that they could in the immediate aftermath of a great tragedy and I want to thank them as well.


BYNUM: Our focus right now is on grieving. The shooter is dead, and the threat that he brought to this campus that has been ended yesterday. But the days ahead of us and the weeks ahead of us, it is so important for this community to show the team here at St. Francis, how much we love you. And I want to thank all of you for coming to work today.

Every day, for years, including through the worst public health crisis we've ever faced as a city, you have put yourselves at risk to save the lives of people in this city. And I hope you know how much it is appreciated. How grateful this community is for you and your work, and the risks that you take and never even appreciating that you could have to deal with this kind of risk and this kind of premeditated violence. And yet, you're still here ready to save more lives today.

This is a remarkable group of people that work at the St. Francis Health System. And so I want to ask my fellow Tulsans in the days and weeks ahead, and that's the two things I've been asked the most in the last 17 hours, one, people wanting to know the details of what happened and why it happened? Well, I think thanks to the law enforcement collaborative effort, we have a very clear understanding of that at this point.

But even more than that, people want to know what they can do to help. We now know who the victims are, and there will be a time to memorialize them and to show our support for their families individually, but we also know that our community needs to rally around the heroes who work at St. Francis Health System.

I speak on this as the CEO of another large organization that went through great tragedy in the last few years. I can tell you that individually -- on an individual basis when you say we would really like people to donate to a fund or we want everybody in town on Friday to wear pink when there's a memorial service, we want people there lined up outside. Any one of those individual things can sound like it's not enough to compensate for the loss and it's not.

But I can also tell you that when we went through the murder of Sergeant Johnson, and that grievous injury to officer Zarkeshan. The way this community rallied around the men and women of the Tulsa police department, the way that people on this campus at St. Francis Health System rallied around the men and women of the police department, it meant so much to our officers and their families and everyone who loves them, the collective impact of this community. That is a community of such great love, that collective impact made a profound difference to people who are grieving and going through loss.

And so that's what I would ask of my fellow Tulsans. If you want to help participate in those ways that are going to come up in the days and weeks ahead, where you can show the people at St. Francis how much you love them and you support them, and that this community is here for them.

I just want to say lastly, on behalf of everyone in this community, it isn't enough to tell the team at St. Francis how much we love you and how grateful we are for you. There is nothing that we can say that will make this pain go away. But we will be here with you, to walk with you through that process every step of the way.


BYNUM: I have no doubt about that. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're hearing questions now. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, what you're telling us about your men and women and the other law enforcement agencies. First of all, it's very reassuring, particularly when, after what happened. I just want to say that. Secondly, regarding these victims, talked about the position when this man was apparently angry. Please tell us about the other three people like it sounds like another position to press two civilians who they've worked in fighting with it. FRANKLIN: The question is who the other victims were and why they were there? They were there for medical service. The doctor was there providing care. They stood in the way -- they stood in the way and Lewis gunned them down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So two patients and another physician who'd work in the same hospital?

FRANKLIN: So there were two physicians, yes, there was a receptionist and there was a patient.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. So, we just did the spelling of the first and last names of everyone. We'll send that afterward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, did you go through the Police Department's policy for dealing with that shooter, all of this? Did you instruct your officers to go in the middle of that? How you deal with stuff like this? (INAUDIBLE)

FRANKLIN: When that call goes out, the first officers that arrive confirm that there is an active shooter in progress. We then have an inactivation that occurs through our 911 system that alerts every Tulsa police officer on duty and off duty. It alerts our special response team, it alerts our special operations team, it alerts -- it -- all of our surrounding areas.

Everyone responds in mass. We have all trained together, we've all worked together. We know each other's tendencies through that work. So when we get that call, we are going to disregard any safety measures that we might have for ourselves and we're going to go to the building to deal with the threat.

Our philosophy is we will stop the threat. And we will do that by any means necessary. That's exactly what the mindset of these officers were that responded to the scene yesterday. And they performed heroically in my opinion. And I cannot thank you enough for the response, not only from our locals but also from the FBI, the United States Marshal Service, the ATF, all of them responded in mass. And if you were out at the same you saw every shoulder patch, every patch on the back of the vest from every different jurisdiction surrounding Tulsa. That's how we train.

We train together. We respond together. We work with St. Francis security, and have the director of security for St. Francis is a retired Tulsa police major. So we are always in constant contact and in sync with one another. This was a massive building, which is again what we train on, large buildings, large structures, create obstacles for our officers between reinforced doors, between cavernous hallways, the shots echoed in the building. So we were trained to enter the building.

If shots are being fired, we are to move rapidly towards those shots. If shots are not being fired, we are going to be more methodical in our approaches we -- as we look for signs. And that's what these officers did. When they first entered the building, they saw broken glass. They shot -- saw shell casings.

They were following those shell casings around and began yelling at Tulsa police. Tulsa police. And it was in that they heard that final gunshot. They rapidly moved to the area where they heard the final gunshot but again, it's a cavernous building. And so those shots echoed and they eventually found the shooter.


BLAYNE ALEXANDER, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Chief, thank you. Blayne Alexander, with NBC News. Can you tell us a little bit more of what you're hearing from witnesses that you've heard from the girls and we're hearing reports that the gunman passed by some people and said I'm not targeting you, I'm looking for a specific person?


ALEXANDER: Is that the case? And then secondly, you mentioned the other three that were in the way. Is there any evidence to indicate that they were standing intentionally trying to block or shield the doctor or were they just in his way?

FRANKLIN: I don't have any information on what the witnesses are reporting as of right now. I cannot speak to that. But I do know that the suspect when he came into the building into that office complex, he began firing -- he began firing at anyone that was in his way. There are reports that one of the victims held the door for someone to allow them to escape out of the back door and was shot and killed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) just to clarify, Amanda was the receptionist, I believe. (INAUDIBLE)


FRANKLIN: Yes, that is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amanda was the one to -- she was taken to the hospital and that's what we predicted originally?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any clarification on that?

FRANKLIN: Amanda was the victim. And she was the receptionist and the other was a patient who was taken to the hospital and later died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just one more question. Can you give us an update on any other victims that were wounded and may still be cared? Or give us some information on that. They know that (INAUDIBLE) going forward.

FRANKLIN: OK. The question is if there are any additional victims that are wounded or in care at this moment? And I don't believe that there is at this moment. So that should quash that rumor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk about how the shooter actually got into the building, and how he got to the second floor? Did he use the elevator, or did he use the stairs?

FRANKLIN: The question is how did the shooter get to the second floor? The Natalie building has a parking garage attached to it with a second-floor entrance. The suspect parked on the second floor of the building and entered through that second-floor entryway and worked his way into the -- into the building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any questions you got? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Around the same time this happened we got a release from Muskogee PD about a bomb threat that you guys just took them off by. Is that connected to this at all?

FRANKLIN: The question is about a bomb threat that came in through the Muskogee police department. That did come in. We are still working to determine exactly how that came in. We do know that there was a response in Muskogee towards a bomb call. I believe it was at the suspect's residence. But we are still working through that portion to determine exactly what transpired there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any questions here? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we talked before you said that the county -- that you support this blocking up guns, yet there we are. It's been a terrible season of gun violence in Tulsa if you support a basic red flag law, any background check, or anything like that.

FRANKLIN: The question is on gun legislation and what I support. I will tell you this. I go out and I execute the law. There are legislators that legislate the law that creates the law. And I am very -- I am more than happy to work with legislators. If they want to bend my ear from a law enforcement perspective and ask what we need, I am more than willing to sit down and provide that information to legislators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Chief. Next question. Yes, in that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the police have been any history with Lewis?

FRANKLIN: The question is that police have any --


FRANKLIN: History with the gunman, Lewis. We are still working through that as well. He is from Muskogee and so we are still working through that to determine exactly what his contact with law enforcement may have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any questions from there? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know which one of the victims is how he held the door open so that people could escape? FRANKLIN: The question is which one of the victims held the door open to allow people to escape? I don't know that I have that information. I do know that the patient victim held a door closed, I believe, is information that I have to allow someone to escape out of another door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, next question. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that the shooter wanted additional help from the surgeon. Are we talking about did he want drugs? Was he trying to get more medication? Was this an opioid situation or do you have that information?


FRANKLIN: The question is whether or not the victim wanted additional help in the form of drugs from the medical doctor. And that is information that what we currently know, is that Lewis was in pain. Lewis expressed that he was in pain and was not getting relief. And that was the circumstance surrounding this entire incident. So we will continue to develop this investigation and release information regarding more intricate details such as that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A quick follow-up. Last night, the officers on the scene told us there were additional gunshot injuries, and your first specific that nobody's being treated right now. But were other people injured by gunfire during the incident?

FRANKLIN: The question is, were other people injured by gunshots regarding this incident.

PARKER: All of the additional victims were treated and released.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there were additional victims, just to be clear?

PARKER: There were --


PARKER: I'm so sorry.

FRANKLIN: Yes, all right.

PARKER: There were some additional wounded patients, but that is private information, obviously. And they were treated and released from the emergency department.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say how many are wounded?

PARKER: I don't have that number right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From gunshots or from that chaos?

PARKER: I can't -- I don't have that information right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're trying to inform you that for the next question, OK, ma'am?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, you said that his wife called to seek security from the Sheriff's office. And does she what was going to happen or is she would probably be set up as the (INAUDIBLE).

FRANKLIN: The question is that earlier, I stated that the wife of the suspect called police and relayed information to police. The information that we currently have is that she did not know what was going to take place. But that he contacted her either before the shooting took place or during the shooting and let -- to let her know what he had done.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a donation or anything, where do you want people to drop it off? I mean, obviously, the community groups, I think (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: So the question was about community support, and where would we want donations and other things left? I would say to me, it's in two ways. First of all, St. Francis is a family and we will take care of our own. But we also recognize the need both locally and quite frankly, nationally, to support the victims and the families of the victims in St. Francis.

And so the Tacoma -- or excuse me, the Tulsa Community Foundation has a fund that it was already in existence for us in Employee Assistance Fund. And so we're will make that link available for folks that feel the need to contribute to these families into the organization.

And we just -- that's really the only, I would say, the official place for folks that want to -- that want to do something to care for those that have been impacted by this -- by this situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you put all updates on what Dr. Phillips has made. This is impressive. Can you talk about his talent and tell us who this man was.

ROBERTSON: No, that's fine. Preston -- Dr. Phillips was the consummate gentleman. He was -- he is a man that we should all strive to emulate. And, indeed -- of everybody, you know, the fact that some individual would go after Dr. Phillips, is mind-blowing. He and -- he's one of those folks that you know, tends to his clinic cannot always be on time because he will spend every minute with patients that they need.

He is one of those doctors that was -- that was cut from the cloth of four decades ago in terms of how he felt about people and how he felt about his calling. And so not only is it a shock, it is -- it is -- it is the ultimate loss for St. Francis and for Tulsa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there any questions for Dr. Robertson while he's here? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Phillips raising concern that the suspect was able, he's alerted by his -- this might be a possibility they --