Tulsa (United States) (AFP), June 2 – A gunman has killed at least four people at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, police said – the latest in a string of mass shootings across the United States in recent weeks.
The murders come as Texas families bury their dead after a school shooting left 19 young children dead eight days earlier.
The Tulsa shooting suspect, who was armed with a rifle and a handgun during his attack on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital, has committed suicide, police said Wednesday.
“Right now we have four civilians who are dead, we have one shooter who is dead, and right now we believe he was self-inflicted,” the deputy chief of the police department told reporters. Tulsa, Eric Dalgleish.
He said officers responded immediately after emergency calls arrived reporting that a gunman had broken into the second floor of the Natalie Building, which houses a clinic on the Saint Francis campus.
Police “heard gunshots in the building” when they arrived, according to Dalgleish, who said officers then searched every room and floor while trying to clear the building during what authorities described as a situation active shooter.
Police Captain Richard Meulenberg said officers described the scene as “catastrophic”, with “several” people shot dead and “multiple injuries”.
It was unclear how many other people might have been injured.
Dalgleish said the entire assault — from when emergency calls were received to when officers engaged the shooter — lasted about four minutes.
He also noted that the suspect had not yet been identified.
U.S. President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting, the White House said in a statement, adding that the administration has offered support to Tulsa officials.
According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been 233 mass shootings this year in the United States, or more than one such incident per day in 2022 so far.
US media reported that the country was hit by a dozen mass shootings over the recent Memorial Day weekend.
The United States generally counts mass shootings as involving four or more deaths.
– ‘Avoidable’ –
Elizabeth Buchner, a paralegal who lives behind the building where the shooting took place, said she rushed out of her house when she heard helicopters and a loud commotion coming from hospital management .
“It was the most law enforcement I have ever seen in one place in my entire life,” Buchner, 43, told AFP by telephone.
She said she saw a tactical team rush inside in a response she described as “quick and strong”, without “hesitation”.
Melissa Provenzano, an Oklahoma state legislator, also praised the officers’ quick response.
“It could have been a lot worse,” she told CNN.
But she expressed her frustration at how such tragedies continue to happen in the country.
“These things are preventable, and it’s time to wake up and fix them.”
– Funeral of Uvalde –
The shooting is the latest in a series of deadly assaults by gunmen that have rocked the United States over the past month.
On May 14, a white supremacist targeting African Americans killed 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. The shooter survived and faces charges.
Ten days later, an 18-year-old gunman armed with an AR-15 burst into an elementary school in the small Texas town of Uvalde and killed 21 people – including 19 young children – before being shot dead by the police.
On Wednesday, one of the two teachers killed in this attack was buried in Uvalde, a day after the first funeral of the children.
Gun regulation faces deep resistance in the United States, from most Republicans and some Democrats in rural states.
But Biden – who visited Uvalde over the weekend – vowed earlier this week to “keep pushing” for reform, saying: “I think things have gotten so bad that everyone is becoming more rational about it.”
Some key federal lawmakers also expressed cautious optimism, and a bipartisan group of senators worked throughout the weekend to seek out possible areas of compromise.
They would have focused on laws to raise the minimum age for buying firearms or to allow police to remove these weapons from people considered a threat to themselves or others – but not on an outright ban on high-powered rifles like those used at Uvalde and Buffalo. .