Gun­shot vic­tim sent wife love be­fore he died

Illi­nois wo­man mourns ‘my pre­cious hus­band’

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - John Ba­con

One of the vic­tims of a gun­man’s ram­page that left five peo­ple dead last week in Illi­nois texted love to his wife as he lay dy­ing.

Terra Pinkard said she re­ceived the text mes­sage Fri­day from her hus­band, Josh, who worked at a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in the Chicago sub­urb of Au­rora.

“I re­ceived a text at 1:24 from my pre­cious hus­band that said I love you, I’ve been shot at work,” she wrote Sun­day on Face­book. “It took me sev­eral times read­ing it for it to hit me that it was for real.”

Josh Pinkard, 37, was the plant man­ager at Henry Pratt Co., where po­lice said Gary Mar­tin killed five co-work­ers and wounded six other peo­ple, in­clud­ing five po­lice of­fi­cers. Mar­tin was killed at the scene.

Terra Pinkard said she tried to call, text and FaceTime her hus­band but re­ceived no re­sponse. She called the plant, and the wo­man who an­swered said she was bar­ri­caded in a room and po­lice were swarm­ing the area.

Pinkard packed up their three chil­dren and drove to the plant but en­coun­tered closed roads. She drove to two hos­pi­tals, wait­ing at the sec­ond one for news. Pas­tors, co-work­ers and neigh­bors sat with her, she said.

“I fi­nally got in touch with the Au­rora (po­lice) who told me of a stag­ing area for vic­tims fam­i­lies,” she wrote. “I don’t know how my body drove it­self there but it did. The po­lice told us there were fa­tal­i­ties. He read my hus­band’s name.”

She told her chil­dren their dad “did not make it and is in heaven with Je­sus. I’ve never had to do some­thing that hard.” She said she was asked by the news me­dia to talk about him, but it was too hard.

“I want to shout from the rooftops about how amaz­ing Josh was!” she wrote. “He was bril­liant! The smartest per­son I’ve ever met! My best friend!”

She thanked friends and fam­ily for their love, prayers and kind­ness. “Please pray for my chil­dren,” she said. “They are strug­gling be­cause they miss a daddy who loved them so much. Please pray that some­how I can put that one foot in front of the other.”

Mar­tin, a 15-year em­ployee at the plant, had been called into a meet­ing and was be­ing fired when he be­gan shoot­ing, au­thor­i­ties said. Josh Pinkard was among three peo­ple at the meet­ing who were killed.

Mar­tin had his gun per­mit re­voked in 2014 af­ter a back­ground check turned up a felony con­vic­tion in Mis­sis­sippi, Au­rora Po­lice Chief Kris­ten Zi­man said. He was told to turn over his weapon but never did, she said.

About 1,700 peo­ple gath­ered in snow and freez­ing driz­zle Sun­day for a prayer vigil, pay­ing homage to the vic­tims and first re­spon­ders.

“Just to sim­ply of­fer con­do­lences is not enough,” Au­rora Mayor Richard Irvin told the crowd. “It doesn’t mea­sure the amount of pain that we feel for the loss that we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in this com­mu­nity.”

“I want to shout from the rooftops about how amaz­ing Josh was! He was bril­liant!” Terra Pinkard Wife of Josh Pinkard, who was slain in Fri­day’s mass shoot­ing

NAM Y. HUH/AP

A man prays at a makeshift me­mo­rial Sun­day in Au­rora, Ill., near the Henry Pratt man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany where five peo­ple were killed Fri­day.

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