A man who murdered five of his colleagues in an Aurora, Illinois manufacturing plant on Friday began shooting moments after he was fired from his job, police said Saturday.
Gary Martin, 45, worked at the Henry Pratt Co. warehouse until Friday afternoon, when he was called into a meeting in which he was fired, police said. Martin brought a handgun with a laser sight to the plant that day, and reportedly began shooting after the meeting. Due to his domestic abuse record, Martin could not legally own the weapon. But he appears to have obtained it through a loophole in a background check, police say.
Martin’s five victims were his colleagues. Josh Pinkard was a manufacturing plant manager. Russell Beyer and Vicente Juarez worked on the factory floor, with Beyer working a mold operator and Juarez driving a forklift. Clayton Parks worked in human resources. Trevor Wehner was an intern, and a student at Northern Illinois University. Martin wounded another colleague, as well as five police officers who responded to the shooting.
“He was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm,” Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said Saturday.
Martin was convicted of aggravated assault in Mississippi in 1995, when he stabbed an ex-girlfriend and beat her with a baseball bat.
“All I can remember is him hitting and kicking me, I can remember fighting and screaming for help. I remember him pushing my head into that brick wall outside the apartment and thinking that he was going to kill me,” his victim told police, according to 1994 court records reviewed by the Washington Post.
Twenty years later, after moving to Illinois, Martin applied for a firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card, which is required for gun and ammunition purchases in Illinois. His criminal history apparently did not appear during the background check, Ziman said. He purchased a .40-caliber handgun and applied for a concealed carry permit several months later in 2014. The concealed carry application has a more rigorous background check. Investigators noted his history and revoked his FOID card, but did not confiscate the gun.
He used that same handgun, plus a laser sight, in the Friday shooting. Police said it was unclear whether he had advance notice that he would be fired, and if he brought the gun to work in anticipation of losing his job.
"My understanding from witnesses is that he opened fire right after the termination," Ziman said, adding that “we can surmise he was speculative” about being fired that day.
Martin reportedly killed his victims early in the shooting-spree, and opened fire on responding officers before hiding in the factory. Police used an armored vehicle to break into the building and find him. They cornered him hiding behind machines, setting off a gunfight that ultimately killed Martin.