Police: Suspected Oklahoma gunman had no criminal record

Jennifer Stong hugs Tasha Hunt outside the scene of a shooting on the east side of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Stong was inside the restaurant when the shooting occurred. (Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman via AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The man suspected of shooting three people inside an Oklahoma City restaurant before being fatally shot by bystanders had no criminal record or obvious connection to the victims or the restaurant, police said Friday.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews said investigators were trying to determine a motive behind the Thursday attack that wounded four people. He said the only interaction police had with the suspected gunman, 28-year-old Alexander Tilghman, was during a domestic assault and battery call when Tilghman was 13.

Mathews said the shooting appeared to be random but noted that Tilghman drove to the restaurant and wore protective gear for his ears and eyes.

“It looked like his mind was made up that he was going to discharge his firearm once he got there,” Mathews said during a Friday news conference.

Mathews praised the two civilians who each retrieved a firearm from their vehicles and fatally shot Tilghman outside the restaurant. His body was discovered about 50 to 75 feet from the front door, almost in the parking lot.

“They were able to shoot the suspect and put an end to a very dangerous situation,” Mathews said.

Oklahoma City police say a gunman shot and two people in a restaurant before an armed civilian shot and killed the gunman. The two wounded people are expected to survive. (May 25)

Police officers stand at the scene of a shooting on the east side of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 24, 2018. A man armed with a pistol walked into Louie’s On The Lake restaurant at the dinner hour and opened fire, wounding two customers, before being shot dead by a handgun-carrying civilian in the parking lot, police said. (Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman via AP)

Police said Tilghman was armed with a pistol when he opened fire inside Louie’s On The Lake around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. A 39-year-old woman and two girls were shot and wounded, while an unarmed man broke his arm while trying to flee.

All four victims were in good condition Friday, according to police.

Dennis Will said his daughter and granddaughter were among those shot. Talking with reporters outside the hospital where the shooting victims were taken, Will said his daughter called him after the shooting and said they had been shot while entering the restaurant for a birthday dinner.

A woman who answered the phone at the home believed to belong to Tilghman’s mother declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Mathews said it’s unlikely either of the civilian shooters will face criminal charges, but said that decision will be made by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s office once the investigation is completed.

Police identified the citizen shooters as Juan Carlos Nazario and Bryan Whittle. Telephone and text messages seeking comment from the two men were not immediately returned.

A policeman puts up crime scene tape around the scene of a shooting on the east side of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Police say a man armed with a pistol walked into an Oklahoma City restaurant and opened fire, wounding two people, before being shot dead by an armed civilian in the parking lot. (Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman via AP)

The Hal Smith Restaurant Group, which owns the restaurant, released a statement saying the restaurant was closed Friday and counselors were available to employees and customers.

“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,” company officials said, referring other questions to police.

The National Rifle Association said in a tweet Friday that the shooting was an example of “how the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The organization said it hopes the incident serves as a “wake-up call” for Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who recently vetoed a so-called constitutional carry bill that would have allowed adults to carry firearms without a license or training in Oklahoma.

In April, a restaurant patron wrestled an assault-style rifle away from a gunman at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee. Four people were killed in that shooting. Police have said there would have been far more casualties if it weren’t for the patron’s quick thinking.