Aurora shooting: Man who shot five dead 'was about to lose job', say police as victims identified

Gary Martin, 45, was not legally allowed to own a gun because of a previous conviction

Police give updated after gunman kills five at Chicago warehouse where he worked before he is shot dead

A gunman who walked into his workplace and shot five people dead had just found out he was about to be sacked, police say.

Gary Martin, 45, also injured five police officers and a sixth employee after he opened fire at Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday.

It later emerged that Martin was not legally allowed to own a gun because of a previous conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi.

He bought the weapon he used in the attack, a Smith and Wesson .40-calibre handgun, in March 2011 after an initial background check failed to spot the felony from 1995.

It was only when he applied for a concealed carry permit five days later that his conviction was flagged and his firearm owner’s ID card was revoked.

Illinois State Police sent Martin a letter asking him to voluntarily surrender the weapon, but he did not, according to Aurora police chief Kristen Ziman.

“He was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm,” Ms Ziman said.

Police have identified the workers who were killed as human resources manager Clayton Parks of Elgin, human resources intern Trevor Wehner of DeKalb, plant manager Josh Pinkard of Oswego, mould operator Russell Beyer of Yorkville; and stock room attendant Vicente Juarez of Oswego.

It was Mr Wehner’s first day on the job, his uncle Jay Wehner said. The Northern Illinois University student was on track to graduate in May with a degree in human resource management.

“He always, always was happy,” said Jay Wehner. “I have no bad words for him. He was a wonderful person. You can’t say anything but nice things about him.”

The first reports of a shooting at the manufacturing plant where Martin had worked for 15 years arrived at about 1.24pm local time on Friday.

Officers arrived at the sprawling facility four minutes later and five policemen were shot within the first five minutes.

Witnesses described seeing a gunman running through the building carrying a pistol fitted with a laser sight.

Workers look out of an office window following a shooting which killed five people and injured five police officers at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, US, on 15 February, 2019.

Police used an armored rescue vehicle called a Bearcat to enter the building and Martin was found hiding in the back about an hour later.

“He was probably waiting for us to get to him there,” said Aurora police lieutenant Rick Robertson. “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.”

All of the wounded officers and a sixth employee who was injured were being treated in hospital on Friday but were expected to survive.

Chief Ziman said a search of the gunman’s home and preliminary evidence suggested he acted alone.

Police search the flat of Gary Martin, who is believed to be responsible for a mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Company, in Aurora, Illinois, USA, which killed five people and left five police officers injured on 15 February, 2019.

Martin’s mother told the Chicago Sun-Times that her son had been “way too stressed out” recently, but it was not clear what he was “stressed” about.

The gunman’s LinkedIn page listed him as a valve assembler at the Henry Pratt plant, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products.

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Mueller said in a statement on Twitter: “Mueller Water Products is shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy that occurred today at our Henry Pratt facility.

“Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones, the first responders, the Aurora community and the entire Mueller family during this extremely difficult time.”

US president Donald Trump tweeted: “Great job by law enforcement in Aurora, Illinois. Heartfelt condolences to all of the victims and their families. America is with you!”

Illinois governor JB Pritzker told a press conference “may God bless the brave law enforcement officers who continued to run toward danger.”

The incident came just one day after the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which saw a gunman kill 17 people.

Additional reporting by Associated Press and Reuters

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