Illinois shooting leaves 5 dead, 5 officers wounded

Updated February 15, 2019 - 7:35 pm

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 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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