TULSA, Okla. (BP) – Deron Spoo, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Tulsa, was visiting church members at St. Francis Hospital June 1 when police and emergency workers began lockdown procedures. It was only after he made it to his car and turned on the radio that he learned a gunman had killed four people in a hospital building before taking his own life.
“As I walked to my car, there were already two helicopters in the air and a number of sirens going off,” Spoo said.
He said that he was very impressed with the “spectacular” response of the police. “Their response was very timely,” he said. “It was definitely a show of force.”
The pastor said he doesn’t believe any of the victims were members of his church, but he knows the tragedy will affect the church as it has “rocked” the community.
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Tulsa police reported June 2 that the shooter left a note saying his ultimate target was an orthopedic doctor whose office is in a medical building connected to the hospital. In the end, he killed two doctors and two other people, according to police.
Spoo said the focus of a previously planned family gathering shifted on Wednesday evening as police helicopters buzzed over their home and local TV stations reported the details of the shooting.
They watched in shock as they realized what they believed would never happen in their community had taken place just a mile down the road.
Spoo’s daughter called to check on them. “I heard her tell her mother, ‘This can happen anywhere now. No place is safe anymore,’” he said.
He said her call reminded him how vulnerable people are.
“This is such a heartbreaking time for Tulsa and our state,” said Todd Fisher, Oklahoma Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer. “We grieve with and pray for all the families affected by this senseless act of violence.”
According to Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that tracks gun-related crimes in the U.S., the shooting in Tulsa is the 233rd mass shooting in 2022.
“Times of tragedy, such as this, remind us of the urgency of our mission to care for people and advance the Gospel,” Fisher said.
Spoo used the sound of the helicopters flying by his home on Wednesday night as a reminder to prayer for peace.
“We are living in such a violent and angry age,” Spoo said, “I think it is fitting for followers of Jesus to just pray for peace.”
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This article originally appeared here.