Tulsa Police Department Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish confirmed the death toll and said the shooter also died, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The recent wave of gun violence across the country, including the killing of 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school eight days ago by an 18-year-old gunman carrying an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, led to Democratic leaders amplifying their calls for greater gun restrictions, while Republicans emphasize safer schools.
The divide reflects a partisan split that has hampered action in Congress and in many state capitals on how best to respond to a record number of gun-related deaths in the United States.
It’s unclear what prompted the deadly assault in Tulsa, Dalgleish said.
“It appears that both guns at one point or another were fired at the scene,” Dalgleish said. “The officers who arrived heard gunshots in the building, and that’s what led them to the second floor.”
Police responded to the call about three minutes after dispatchers received the report at 4:52 p.m. and made contact with the shooter about five minutes later at 5:01 p.m., Dalgleish said.
“I was very pleased with what we know so far regarding our officers’ response,” Dalgleish said.
The time it took Uvalde, Texas police officers to engage the shooter in last week’s fatal shooting at Robb Elementary School has become a key part of this investigation.
Police Captain Richard Meulenberg also said several people were injured and the medical complex was a “catastrophic scene”.
Police and hospital officials said they were not ready to identify the dead.
St. Francis Health System closed its campus Wednesday afternoon due to the situation at the Natalie Medical Building. The Natalie building houses an outpatient surgery center and a breast health center. Dalgleish said an orthopedic clinic is also located on the second floor where officers discovered the shooter and several victims.
“This campus is sacred ground for our community,” Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum said. “For decades, this campus has been a place where heroes come to work every day to save the lives of members of our community.”
Bynum added: “At this time my thoughts are with the victims. If we want to have a political discussion, it’s something to have in the future, but not tonight.”
Tulsa resident Nicholas O’Brien, whose mother was in a nearby apartment building at the time of the shooting, told reporters he rushed to the scene.
“They were taking people out. I don’t know if some of them were hurt or injured during the shooting, but some of them couldn’t walk very well. But they were just wobbling and stumbling and getting them out of there,” he said.
“I was quite anxious. So once I got here I heard she (her mum) was fine, the shooter had been shot and he was down, I felt a lot better . It’s still horrible what happened,” O’Brien said.
Philip Tankersley, 27, was leaving his father’s room at nearby Saint Francis Hospital around 5 p.m. when hospital staff said there was an active shooter in the building across the street. street, locked the doors and warned them to stay away from the windows.
Tankersley said he and his mother sheltered in his father’s hospital room for more than an hour, trying to learn bits of information from newscasts and passing nurses. He said they heard “money code” and “level 1 trauma” announced over the hospital speakers and wondered if they were safe in the room.
“I wasn’t particularly worried because the two people I have to watch out for were in the same room as me,” he said. “But it was definitely a moment where it’s happening here.”
Officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the scene, a spokesperson said. A reunification center allowing families to find their loved ones has been set up in a nearby high school.
Wednesday’s shooting also comes just over two weeks after a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket by a white man accused of killing 10 black people in a racist attack. The recent Memorial Day weekend saw several mass shootings across the country, even as single-death incidents accounted for most gun deaths.
Since January, there have been 12 shootings in which four or more people were killed, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Massacre Database. Those shootings left 76 people dead, including 31 adults and children in Buffalo and Texas, according to the database. The toll does not include the suspects in the shooting.