A gunman opened fire at a warehouse where he worked in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday afternoon, killing five employees and injuring six law officers, according to police.
The gunman, 45-year-old Gary Montez Martin, is also dead, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said in a news conference Friday night.
The chief announced Saturday morning that Martin arrived at the warehouse on Friday for a meeting with human resources personnel, who told him his position at the Henry Pratt Co. ― a valve manufacturer ― had been terminated. Martin then began shooting with a .40 Smith & Wesson handgun that had an attached laser.
Those killed were Clayton Parks, a human resources manager; Trevor Wehner, a human resources intern; Russell Beyer, a mold operator; Vicente Juarez, a stock room attendant; and Josh Pinkard, the newly appointed plant manager. (Read more about them here.)
“My heart goes out to the victims and their families who simply went to work today like any other day,” Ziman said.
Aurora Police Department officers responded to reports of an active shooter at the Henry Pratt warehouse shortly before 1:30 p.m. in the city west of Chicago.
Police said Martin opened fire immediately upon police arrival. As more officers arrived at the plant, Martin continued firing before retreating farther into the building, estimated to be 29,000 square feet in size.
Aurora police said Martin shot the first officer from a window and hit the four other officers as they entered the building, all within a five-minute span. None suffered life-threatening wounds. A sixth officer, who was not shot, was hospitalized with a knee injury. The six ranged in age from 23 to 53 with decades of experience between them, police said.
When Martin retreated into the factory building, regional, federal and local law enforcement officers worked jointly to launch two simultaneous missions: One to rescue victims in the warehouse and another to find the shooter, according to Ziman. “Hundreds” of law enforcement officers on the state, federal and local levels responded to the scene on Friday, she noted. Images from the scene showed an immense police presence.
Martin again opened fire on officers when they located him inside the building more than an hour later, and he was fatally shot by police.
Police did not say why Martin lost his job. Family members said he’d been laid off.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Martin’s home in Aurora but did not find any other weapons. They believe he acted alone.
He was able to obtain a firearm through an apparent flaw in the state gun control system, which is one of the nation’s most stringent. Martin successfully applied for an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card in 2014, Ziman said. The background check, however, did not turn up a 1995 felony conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi that would have barred him from receiving the FOID card. That felony turned up when Martin applied for a concealed carry permit after purchasing the Smith & Wesson handgun he used in Friday’s shooting.
The state then rejected his concealed carry permit and revoked his FOID card. Martin was expected to surrender the firearm.
Mueller Water Products, which owns Henry Pratt, said in a statement that it was working closely with law enforcement in the investigation.
“Mueller Water Products is shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy that occurred today at our Henry Pratt facility,” the company said in a note posted to Henry Pratt’s website.
“Our entire focus is on the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, and we are committed to providing any and all support to them and their families,” the statement said.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin mourned the victims on Friday, saying, “We must never forget those innocent people who were senselessly, senselessly gunned down — the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.”
A man who ran out of the building when the shooting began, John Probst, gave the first public indication of the horror unfolding when he told local news outlet ABC7 that the gunman worked at the company.
As the situation developed, Martin’s family members shared a version of events with local news outlets that differed slightly from what law enforcement gave Saturday. A woman who identified herself as the mother of Martin, said he was laid off from the plant two weeks ago and was “stressed out,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“My heart goes out to all the victims and their families,” she told WGN.
Tameka Martin, who identified herself as the gunman’s sister, told WBEZ that her brother was “very depressed” after being laid off from Henry Pratt two weeks ago.
Holy Angels Catholic School and West Aurora School District 129 were placed on lockdown while police secured the area. During the lockdown, officials instructed parents to contact the school district for information on dismissal.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) expressed thanks and condolences over Twitter, writing, “This is a scary, sad day for all Illinoisans and Americans.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) thanked first responders, as well.
“My heart breaks for Aurora,” he said in a statement Friday night.
“Yesterday, we remembered the victims of the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Northern Illinois University, and today we are grieving yet again for another community victimized by a senseless shooting,” Durbin said. “How many more times can we witness horrific events like this, or another child shot in Chicago, and not help prevent these tragedies?”
President Donald Trump had been briefed on the situation, the White House said. He tweeted his condolences to the victims and their families on Friday evening.
This article has been updated with details on injured officers and statements from officials.
Sebastian Murdock, Sarah Ruiz-Grossman and Carla Herreria contributed reporting.
See photos from the scene below.