Po­lice: Gun­man likely knew job in jeop­ardy

Illi­nois man with trou­bled his­tory be­gan shoot­ing af­ter his fir­ing

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Don Babwin and Caryn Rousseau

AURORA, Ill. — The man who gunned down five co­work­ers and wounded a sixth at a sub­ur­ban Chicago man­u­fac­tur­ing ware­house be­fore shoot­ing and wound­ing five po­lice of­fi­cers 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 he might be about to lose his job, po­lice Chief Kris­ten Zi­man said at a news con­fer­ence.

Martin’s fam­ily said he was “stressed” re­cently, but au­thor­i­ties could not say why he was be­ing fired af­ter work­ing at the ware­house for 15 years. That was just one of many ques­tions that re­mained Satur­day.

Zi­man said as soon as he was fired, he pulled his hand­gun and be­gan shoot­ing. Three of the five co­work­ers he killed were in the room with him and the other two were just out­side, she said.

Martin had a laser sight on his hand­gun, and “mul­ti­ple spent mag­a­zines” were found in the ware­house, Zi­man said.

Fran­tic calls to 911 started pour­ing in from fright­ened work­ers at 1:24 p.m. CST Fri­day 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. Af­ter that flurry of shots and with of­fi­cers from through­out the re­gion stream­ing in to help, Martin ran and hid in­side the 29,000-square-foot build­ing.

Po­lice used an ar­mored res­cue ve­hi­cle called a Bearcat to en­ter the build­ing, Aurora po­lice Lt. Rick Robert­son said. Teams of of­fi­cers then be­gan to search the build­ing, find­ing Martin hid­ing in the back about an hour later, he said.

“He was prob­a­bly wait­ing for us to get to him there,” Robert­son said. “It was just a very short gun­fight and it was over, so he was ba­si­cally in the back wait­ing for us and fired upon us and our of­fi­cers fired.”

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

It was Wehner’s first day on the job, his un­cle Jay Wehner said. Trevor Wehner, 21, was on the dean’s list at NIU’s Col­lege of Business and was on track to grad­u­ate in May with a de­gree in hu­man re­source man­age­ment.

Parks was a 2014 grad­u­ate of NIU’s business col­lege, school Pres­i­dent Lisa Free­man said.

The worker who was shot but sur­vived was taken to a hospi­tal with in­juries that were not life-threat­en­ing, au­thor­i­ties said. 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 & 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 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. Once his card was re­voked, he could no longer legally have a gun.

A com­pany back­ground check did not turn up the 1995 con­vic­tion, said Scott Hall, pres­i­dent and CEO of Mueller Wa­ter Prod­ucts Inc, which owns Henry Pratt.

The shoot­ing shocked the city of 200,000, which is about 40 miles west of Chicago.

“You think you know peo­ple but you don’t,” said Mary McKnight, who lived next door to Martin in Acorn Woods Con­do­mini­ums, less than 2 miles from the plant.


A bul­let lies on the ice a few feet from where crosses were placed Satur­day near the Henry Pratt Co. plant in Aurora.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.