At least four people were killed and others injured in a shooting at an Oklahoma medical clinic on Wednesday, police say.
The Tulsa Police Department confirmed a total of five people, including the shooter, were dead, as officers continued to clear the building Wednesday night.
Officers responded to reports of a man armed with a rifle at the Natalie Building of St Francis Hospital, which then escalated into an ‘active shooter situation’. The building houses an outpatient surgery center and a breast health center.
“We are treating this as a catastrophic scene right now,” Tulsa Police Captain Richard Meulenberg told a group of reporters.
Deputy Chief of Police Eric Dalgleish said police were called at 4:52 p.m. and arrived four minutes later, making contact with the suspect at 5:01 p.m. on the second floor of the building.
He said the suspect was a black male between the ages of 35 and 40, of unknown identity, carrying a pistol and rifle, and believed to have committed suicide. No police were injured.
Police do not yet know the shooters’ motive, he added, or whether they were targeting a specific person or group.
Later that evening, police in nearby Muskogee said they were investigating a possible bomb, which reports said may have been left by the Tulsa shooter.
An officer who had been inside the building Natalie said Fox 23 Tulsa that one of the dead was found wearing a doctor’s uniform, while the other two were wearing nurses’ clothes.
The Tulsa Police Department said, “Officers are currently scanning every room in the building looking for additional threats. We know there are multiple injuries and potentially multiple casualties.
“We are asking family members and friends to come to Memorial High School west of LaFortune Park for a reunification site.”
The shooting follows a series of similar attacks in Oklahoma and neighboring Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were shot dead by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last week.
Just ten days earlier, an alleged hardline white supremacist had killed ten black people and injured three others in a live-streamed terrorist attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Then on Sunday, one person was killed and seven injured when gunfire erupted at a Memorial Day festival in Taft, Oklahoma.
Last Friday, the Tulsa Police Department held a long-planned active shooter exercise at a school that was empty over summer vacation, teaching police trainees how to enter and clear classrooms.
Dr Kevin Howarth, who worked in the building directly across from the Natalie Building, said Fox 23 that he heard people screaming, then saw a lady in a blouse “frenziedly” leaving the building, before “the whole campus was flooded with police.”
A video which appeared to be from the scene showed law enforcement officers armed with semi-automatic rifles running through a grassy outdoor area between hospital buildings as Tulsa police cruisers pulled into position and a police officer retrieved a gun from the trunk of his car.
Federal agents, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), were also at the scene to help with the investigation.
The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the shooting and his staff were monitoring the situation.
Kevin Hern, a Republican serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, said, “We still don’t know a lot about what happened tonight in the Natalie building.
“But what we do know is this: many lives have been taken from us and many more have been changed forever. My prayers are with those who lost loved ones tonight.
Chief Executive of St Francis Health System, Dr Cliff Robertson, said: “There are over 10,000 people who are part of St Francis Health System who dedicate their lives every day to caring for people in the need, to take care of all those who need it.
“This senseless, horrible and incomprehensible act is not going to change that.”