News

Illinois man being fired from job fatally shoots 5 workers

Written by Carrie Antlfinger and Amanda Seitz/The Associated Press | Feb 15, 2019 7:34 PM
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FBI agents walk near the scene of a shooting at a manufacturing plant Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Aurora, Ill. The gunman killed several people were wounded police officers before he was fatally shot, police said. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.

(Aurora, Ill.) -- The man who killed five co-workers and wounded another and five police officers at a suburban Chicago manufacturing warehouse brought his gun to a meeting in which he was going to be fired, authorities said Saturday.

Because Gary Martin brought his gun to Friday's meeting at the sprawling Henry Pratt Co. warehouse in Aurora, he likely knew it was possible he was about to lose the job he had held for 15 years, police Chief Kristen Ziman said at a news conference.

Ziman said she didn't know what had been conveyed to Martin, why he was being fired or whether he had shown up for his regular shift or was there just for the meeting. But she said as soon as he was fired, he pulled his handgun and began shooting. Three of the five co-workers he killed were in the room with him and the other two were just outside, she said. A sixth employee and five police officers were shot but survived.

Frantic calls to 911 started pouring in from frightened workers at 1:24 p.m. and officers arrived at the scene within four minutes, authorities said.

Martin fired on the officers when they arrived, striking one outside and another near the building's entrance. The other three wounded officers were shot inside the building. None of their wounds are considered life-threatening, Ziman said Saturday.

All of the officers who were wounded were shot within the first five minutes of police arriving at the scene, authorities said. Martin then hid inside the 29,000-square-foot building and a search ensued. He fired on an officer about an hour later and police fired back, killing him, authorities said.

Police identified the five slain workers as human resources manager Clayton Parks of Elgin; human resources intern and Northern Illinois University student Trevor Wehner of DeKalb; plant manager Josh Pinkard of Oswego; mold operator Russell Beyer of Yorkville; and stock room attendant and fork lift operator Vicente Juarez of Oswego.

The wounded worker, whose name wasn't released, was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. A sixth police officer suffered a knee injury during the search of the building.

Martin had been arrested six times in Aurora over the years, including for domestic battery, Ziman said.

He was able to buy the Smith and Wesson .40-caliber handgun he used in the attack because an initial background check didn't catch that he had a prior felony conviction in Mississippi, the chief said. Martin was issued a firearm owner's identification card in January of 2014 after he passed the initial background check and he bought the gun that March 11.

It wasn't until he applied for a concealed carry permit five days later and went through a more rigorous background check that uses digital fingerprinting that his 1995 felony conviction in Mississippi for aggravated battery was flagged and his firearm owner's ID card was revoked, she said.
The shooting shocked the city of 200,000, which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

"For so many years, we have seen similar situations throughout our nation and the horrible feeling that we get when we see it on the news. To experience it first-hand, is even more painful," said Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin said Friday.

Resident Christy Fonseca said she often worries about some of the gang-related crimes and shootings around her mother's Aurora neighborhood. But she never expected the type of phone call she got from her mom on Friday, warning her to be careful with an active shooter loose in the town.

Police cars with screaming sirens revved past her as she drove to her mother's house, where the Henry Pratt building is visible from the porch stoop.

It was only when they flipped on the television news that they realized Martin had killed people just a few hundred feet away.

"In Aurora, period, we'd never thought anything like this would happen," Fonseca, a lifelong resident, said as she looked out at the warehouse where Henry Pratt makes valves for industrial purposes.

At Acorn Woods Condominiums where Martin lived, a mix of brick apartments and condos nestled on a quiet street just a mile and a half from the shooting, neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin's unit talking and wondering among themselves if they knew or had come in contact with him.
Mary McKnight stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son's birthday, to find a flurry of police cars, officers and media trucks.

"This is a strange thing to come home to, right," she said. She had just learned that the shooter lived close by and his unit in the complex had been taped off by police.

Asked if Martin's rampage had been a "classic" workplace shooting, police chief Ziman said:

"I don't know. We can only surmise with a gentleman that's being terminated that this was something he intended to do."
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Associated Press writers Carrie Antlfinger and Amanda Seitz contributed to this report. Babwin and Rousseau reported from Chicago.

This story has been updated. Earlier versions appear below. 

(Aurora, Ill.) --  The frantic calls started pouring in at 1:24 p.m. A gunman was shooting people inside a sprawling manufacturing warehouse in Aurora, Illinois.

Within four minutes, the first police officers rushed to the 29,000-square-foot building in the suburban Chicago city and were fired on immediately; one was struck outside and four others shot inside.

By the time the chaos ended Friday afternoon, five male employees of Henry Pratt Co. were found dead and the gunman was killed in a shootout with police after a 90-minute search of the sprawling warehouse. Five male police officers were hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.

"For so many years, we have seen similar situations throughout our nation and the horrible feeling that we get when we see it on the news. To experience it first-hand, is even more painful," said Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said the gunman, 45-year-old Gary Martin, was being fired from his job Friday after 15 years with the company. It was not immediately known why Martin was being fired.

"We don't know whether he had the gun on him at the time or if he went to retrieve it," Ziman said.

She also said that authorities don't yet know if the employees firing him were among the victims. The names of those killed were not immediately released.

In addition to the five employees killed, a sixth worker was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. A sixth police officer suffered a knee injury while officers were searching the building.

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Law enforcement officers work at the scene of a shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Aurora, Ill. Officials say several people were killed and at least five police officers were wounded after a gunman opened fire in an industrial park. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

The shooting shocked the city of 200,000 that is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

Christy Fonseca often worries about some of the gang-related crimes and shootings around her mother's Aurora neighborhood. But she never expected the type of phone call she got from her mom on Friday, warning her to be careful with an active shooter loose in the town.

Police cars with screaming sirens revved past her as she drove to her mother's house, where the Henry Pratt building is visible from the porch stoop.

It was only when they flipped on the television news that they realized Martin had killed people just a few hundred feet away.

"In Aurora, period, we'd never thought anything like this would happen," Fonseca, a lifelong resident, said as she looked out at the warehouse where Henry Pratt makes valves for industrial purposes.

At Acorn Woods Condominiums where Martin lived, a mix of brick apartments and condos nestled on a quiet street just a mile and a half from the shooting, neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin's unit talking and wondering among themselves if they knew or had come in contact with him.
Mary McKnight stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son's birthday, to find a flurry of police cars, officers and media trucks.

"This is a strange thing to come home to, right," she said. She had just learned that the shooter lived close by and his unit in the complex had been taped off by police.

Asked if Martin's rampage had been a "classic" workplace shooting, police chief Ziman said:

"I don't know. We can only surmise with a gentleman that's being terminated that this was something he intended to do."

This story has been updated. An earlier version appears below.

(Aurora, Ill.) -- An employee of a manufacturing company opened fire in its suburban Chicago plant Friday, killing five people and wounding five police officers before he was fatally shot, police said.

Aurora, Illinois, Police Chief Kristen Ziman identified the gunman as 45-year-old Gary Martin and said he was believed to be an employee at the Henry Pratt Co. -- which makes valves for industrial purposes -- in the city about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago. She told a news conference that officers arrived within four minutes of receiving reports of the shooting and were fired upon as soon as they entered the 29,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse.

Police said they did not know the gunman's motive.

"May God bless the brave law enforcement officers who continue to run toward danger," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at the news conference.

Hospitals reported treating at least seven patients from the shooting, though their conditions weren't released. Two of the officers were airlifted to trauma centers in Chicago, Ziman said. She said a sixth officer suffered a knee injury. Officials did not say the total number of people injured including police and civilians.

Dozens of first responder vehicles converged on the building housing the company in Aurora after police received multiple calls about an active shooter at 1:24 p.m. CST.

Several ATF teams also responded to the shooting and were at the scene, according to the agency's Chicago spokeswoman, and the FBI said it also responded.

John Probst, an employee at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, told ABC7 that he ran out of the back door as the shooting unfolded Friday afternoon. Probst says he recognized the gunman and that he works for the company.

"What I saw was the guy running down the aisle with a pistol with a laser on it," Probst said.

Probst said he wasn't hurt but that another colleague was "bleeding pretty bad."  

"It's a shame that mass shootings such as this have become commonplace in our country. It's a shame that a cold and heartless offender would be so selfish as to think he has the right to take an innocent life," Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin said.

Police and squad cars guarded all access points to Henry Pratt five hours after the first calls to 911 about the shooting. The industrial park is surrounded by a neighborhood of modest homes with porch fronts, some with American flags perched outside.

At Acorn Woods Condominiums where Martin lived, a mix of brick apartments and condos nestled on a quiet street just a mile and a half from the shooting, neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin's unit talking and wondering among themselves if they knew or had come in contact with him.

Mary McKnight stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son's birthday, to find a flurry of police cars, officers and media trucks.

"This is a strange thing to come home to, right," she said. She had just learned that the shooter lived close by and his unit in the complex had been taped off by police.

Christy Fonseca often worries about some of the gang-related crimes and shootings around her mother's Aurora neighborhood. But she never expected the type of phone call she got from her mom on Friday, warning her to be careful with an active shooter loose in the town.

Police cars with screaming sirens revved past her as she drove to her mother's house, where the Henry Pratt building is visible from the porch stoop. it was only when they flipped on the television news that they realized Martin had killed people just a few hundred feet away.

"In Aurora, period, we'd never thought anything like this would happen," Fonseca, a lifelong resident of the Chicago suburb, said as she looked out at the factory.

The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and monitoring the situation as he prepared to depart for a weekend trip to his home in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump tweeted his thanks to law enforcement officers in Aurora and offered his condolences to the victims and their families. "America is with you," he said.

Presence Mercy Medical Center was treating two patients and a third had been transferred by helicopter to another hospital, spokesman Matt Wakely said. Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital each had one patient from the shooting, spokeswoman Kate Eller said. Rush Copley Medical Center received three patients from the shooting and all are being treated for non-life threatening injuries, spokeswoman Courtney Satlak said.

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