Doctors Killed by Patient in 'Incomprehensible' Tulsa Shooting 'Didn't Deserve to Die This Way,' Says Colleague

Colleagues mourned the three medical professionals who lost their lives, and police say a patient killed in Wednesdays attack died a hero

Preston J. Phillips, M.D., Stephanie J. Husen, D.O.
Preston J. Phillips, M.D., Stephanie J. Husen, D.O. Photo: Saint Francis Health System (2)

Dr. Preston Phillips, an orthopedic surgeon who was killed Wednesday in a shooting at the Saint Francis Hospital Campus in Tulsa, Okla., was beloved by his colleagues, who praised him for his patient-centered approach and as a kind and caring person.

"Dr. Phillips was the consummate gentleman. He was — is — a man that we should all strive to emulate," Dr. Cliff Robertson, president and CEO of Saint Francis Health System, told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

Dr. Phillips was one of four victims killed. His colleague in the orthopedics department, Dr. Stephanie Husen, a hospital receptionist at the clinic, Amanda Green, and a patient, William Love, also died in the shooting.

The gunman, Michael Louis, was a patient of Dr. Phillips', Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin revealed Thursday. Police believe Louis took his own life as officers approached him on the second floor of the Natalie Medical Building.

Louis, 45, went into the hospital for back surgery on May 19 and was released five days later, Franklin said. After his release, Franklin said the suspect called several times during a period of several days, complaining of pain and wanting additional treatment.

"On May 31st, Dr. Phillips saw Mr. Louis again for additional treatment. Yesterday, June 1st, Louis called Dr. Phillips office again complaining of back pain and wanting additional assistance," the police chief told reporters Thursday.

Police found a letter on the suspect's body, which, Franklin said, "made it clear he came in with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips and anyone who got in his way. He blamed Dr. Phillips for the ongoing pain following the surgery."

Cars drive past the Saint Francis Hospital campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 2, 2022. - A gunman has killed at least four people at the hospital, police said -- the latest in a string of mass shootings across the US in recent weeks. The killings come as Texas families bury their dead after a school shooting left 19 young children dead just eight days earlier. The Tulsa shooting suspect, who was armed with a rifle and a handgun during his attack on the Saint Francis hospital campus, died by suicide, police said June 1.

An emotional Dr. Robertson said he found it hard to believe anyone would target Dr. Phillips, who earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, according to his Massachusetts physician profile.

"The fact that some individual would go after Dr. Phillips is mind-blowing. He's one of those folks that, you know, his clinic cannot always be on time because he will spend every minute with patient that they need," Roberston said. "He is one of those doctors that was cut from the cloth of ... how he felt about people and how he felt about his calling. And so not only is it a shock, it is the ultimate loss for Saint Francis and for Tulsa."

Preston J. Phillips, M.D.
Saint Francis Health System

Robertson said of his colleagues, "The three best people in the entire world, who are the most committed to doing what they do every day, didn't deserve to die this way."

Dr. Ryan Parker, Saint Francis Associate Chief Medical Officer, also expressed her grief and said a prayer for the victims while speaking to reporters on Thursday.

"I know that all of our colleagues went into medicine to help people. This was their calling," she said, tearing up at times. "This isn't 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."

Slain Patient Possibly Helped Save Lives

She also addressed the family of Love, who was a patient. "To the family of Mr. Love, our hearts break for you," she said. "We so wanted to be able to utilize our skills and training to save these precious lives. To the family of Mr. Love, I'm so sorry we couldn't save you. We are grieving with you."

Police Chief Franklin said Love, a patient at the hospital, acted heroically during the shooting — and that it may have cost him his life.

"The suspect when he came into the building, into that office complex, he began firing. He began firing at anyone who was in his way. There are reports that one of the victims held a door for someone to allow them to escape out of the back door and was shot and killed," Franklin said.

"The patient victim held a door closed, I believe is the information I have, to allow someone to escape out of another door," he added later while answering reporters' questions.

Stephanie J. Husen, D.O.
Saint Francis Health System

Dr. Husen, whose hospital bio says she practices sports medicine and is an orthopedic surgeon, "was an incredible person," Robertson said.

Her ex-husband, John Reckenbeil, told The Washington Post said Husen was "completely genuine" and "the smartest person in the room."

"Today our world and our Saint Francis family are devastated," Dr. Parker said at Thursday's press conference. "Our job is to help and heal. And we are here to do our job even if it's with broken hearts."

Saint Francis Health has set up an emergency fund for people who wish to donate.

"Saint Francis Health System is committed to taking care of our own. We are offering services, counseling, pastoral care, pet therapy, EAP services and more to members of our family who need help coping with and processing the tragedies that occurred yesterday," reads a statement on a site set up to accept donations.

"We are also committed to supporting the families of our caregivers who were senselessly killed. There has been an outpouring of calls and comments from the community asking how they can offer help to the families of the deceased as well as our employees who are grieving," the statement continues. "A fund has been set up with the Tulsa Community Foundation to accept donations to assist with this cause."

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