The alleged killer in the country’s latest high-profile mass shooting was a Black man who allegedly blamed his doctor for chronic pain following a recent surgery, the Washington Post reports.
The shooter, Michael Lewis, had recently had an operation performed on his back on May 19 by surgeon Preston Phillips. Phillips was among the four people killed when Lewis walked into St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., yesterday and opened fire with an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle, the same type used to kill 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Tex., just over a week ago and 10 Black shoppers at a supermarket in Buffalo earlier last month.
Also killed in Tulsa yesterday were another doctor, Stephanie Husen, receptionist Amanda Green and a patient, William Love.
Lewis had complained since his surgery of pain and reportedly called the hospital multiple times asking for the issue to be addressed. Apparently aggrieved, he made a fateful decision.
From the Washington Post
Then, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Louis purchased a semiautomatic rifle from a local gun store shortly before heading to St. Francis, police said.
“That semiautomatic rifle was an AR-15-style rifle,” Franklin said. Shortly thereafter, Louis began shooting with the rifle he had just purchased as well as a .40-caliber handgun he bought from a pawn shop on Sunday, police said. It remains unclear if law enforcement had been previously aware of Louis, Franklin said.
Authorities said they recovered a total of 37 bullet casings at the hospital — 30 from the AR-15-style rifle and seven from the handgun. Franklin told reporters that police recovered a letter the gunman had on him detailing how he was “killing Dr. Phillips and anyone who came in his way.”
The tragedy coincidentally occurred as Tulsa marked the 101st anniversary of the massacre of an untold number of its Black residents by a white mob as they destroyed the Greenwood District, an affluent Black enclave in the city.
It also recalled other broader social issues. Several studies in recent years have revealed disparities in the medical treatment received by Black and white patients, including some that specifically focused on how doctors at times underestimate or improperly treat pain in Black patients.
Meanwhile, the fact that Lewis carried out the shooting with a legally-purchased AR-15 added fuel to renewed calls for gun control legislation, something a bipartisan group of senators is currently discussing but which is unlikely to get done because of Republican opposition.