A gunman opened fire inside a crowded Oklahoma City restaurant during dinnertime Thursday evening, injuring three people before he was shot dead by two armed citizens in the parking lot, police said.
The shooting victims in the restaurant included two young girls, whose identities were not made public, and a 39-year-old woman named Natalie Giles, the police said. A fourth person suffered a broken arm when he fell running away from the gunfire, police said.
All of the victims were in good condition as of Friday morning, according to authorities.
The drama unfolded around 6:30 p.m. CT at Louie’s On The Lake, a pub along Lake Hefner, when police say 28-year-old Alexander Tilghman of Oklahoma City stood in the doorway and started shooting, seemingly at random.
After allegedly discharging multiple rounds from the pub’s entrance, Tilghman was fatally shot outside by two bystanders: Juan Carlos Nazario and Bryan Wittle, who had grabbed handguns from their vehicles, Oklahoma City Police Department Capt. Bo Mathews said on Friday.
“They stopped an incident that was very, very bad,” Mathews said. “We had no idea what he was going to do after he left Louie’s restaurant.”
The two citizens did not know each other and arrived at the scene separately, Mathews said.
“I just did what needed to be done to stop the threat. Nothing special,” Wittle told USA Today. “A lot of people would have done the same given the situation.”
Oklahoma requires a license for handguns to be carried, either openly or concealed. Two weeks ago, the state’s Republican governor vetoed a bill that would allow adults to carry guns without a permit or training.
Mathews said he did not expect Nazario and Whittle to be charged for the fatal shooting.
Officials don’t know the gunman’s motive, but said they have no reason to suspect terrorism.
Tilghman had not been on local authorities’ radar for over a decade. Mathews said the last contact police had with him was in 2003, when he was arrested as a 13-year-old juvenile for assault and battery. No additional details were provided about that incident.
Witnesses to the restaurant shooting said Tilghman was wearing protective ear muffs and shooting glasses — the kind typically worn to a shooting range, according to Mathews.
“So it looked like he had made his mind up that he was going to discharge his firearm when he got there,” Mathews said.
Police did not provide much detail about those injured by Tilghman. Dennis Will, the father of victim Natalie Will and grandfather of another victim, told NBC affiliate KFOR in Oklahoma that Natalie was there for a birthday celebration for her daughter.
“It was beyond shock,” he said by phone from his home state of Tennessee of his reaction to the shooting. “I was supposed to go, but wasn’t able to make it.”
Police described the scene in the restaurant as chaotic as diners ran for their lives. More than 100 witnesses inside the restaurant were interviewed as part of the investigation.
Hal Smith Restaurants, which owns Louie’s on the Lake, said the restaurant would be closed on Friday.
“At every Hal Smith Restaurant, the safety of our guests and employees is our utmost concern. We are extremely thankful the situation didn’t escalate further, and that injuries were not more widespread. However, our hearts are with the wounded during this incident,” the Norman, Oklahoma-based restaurant group said in a statement.