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The Illinois Factory Shooter Opened Fire In His Termination Meeting With HR

Aurora Police said the shooter had been told to relinquish his gun in 2014 because of a prior conviction.

Last updated on February 16, 2019, at 5:18 p.m. ET

Posted on February 16, 2019, at 1:40 p.m. ET

Scott Olson / Getty Images

The man who shot and killed five of his co-workers in a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois on Friday, opened fire during the meeting in which he was told he was losing his job, authorities said.

"He opened fire right after termination," Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told reporters during a press conference on Saturday.

The shooter, identified as 45-year-old Gary Martin, used a .40 caliber handgun in the shooting. Police said he should not have owned the weapon because of a prior felony conviction for aggravated assault, and they are now investigating how he was able to keep the gun for nearly five years.

Citing court records, the Chicago Tribune reported that at least two women had told authorities that Martin behaved violently or threateningly towards them.

One such report led to his conviction and arrest in Mississippi, according to the Tribune. Another report, by a different woman, persuaded a judge to approve an emergency order of protection in 2008, the Tribune reported.

Police said the shooter, who'd been an employee at the Henry Pratt Co. plant for 15 years, opened fire in his dismissal meeting with HR, and then began shooting outside the meeting room. Police did not say in what capacity the gunman had been employed at the factory.

Scott Hall, the CEO of parent company Mueller Water Products, told reporters on Saturday that Martin was being fired as a result of "the culmination of various workplace rules violations," which he declined to specify.

"Friday was basically the worst day our company has ever had," he said at a press conference. "We are hurting right now."

Aurora Police

Shooter Gary Martin

Martin killed two human resource workers and the plant manager, as well as two other colleagues.

Five police officers were wounded by gunfire and another was injured during the shooting.

Police released the names of the five victims of the shooting at on Saturday:

  • Clayton Parks from Elgin worked as the human resources manager.
  • Trevor Wehner from DeKalb was a student at Northern Illinois University and the human resources intern at Henry Pratt. Friday was his very first day, according to a family friend posting on Facebook, who said Wehner was just 21.
  • Russell Beyer from Yorkville worked as a mold operator.
  • Vicente Juarez from Oswego was a stock room attendant and fork lift operator.
  • Josh Pinkard, also from Oswego, was the plant manager.

Chief Ziman explained that the shooter had bought a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber handgun from a local gun store in Aurora on March 6, 2014.

Ten days after the purchase he applied for a concealed carry permit, but was denied after the fingerprinting and background process revealed he'd been convicted in 1995 for aggravated assault in Mississippi.

The gun purchase did not involve a fingerprint check and therefore did not reveal his prior conviction.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Because of the conviction, his Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification was revoked. State police sent him a letter informing him that he had to voluntarily relinquish the firearm, said Ziman.

"He was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm," said the police chief, noting that they were now investigating which departments had β€” or had not β€” followed up about the weapon.

The shooter also had six prior arrests by the Aurora Police Department, including for traffic and domestic violence related issues. He was also arrested by Oswego Police in 2017 for disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property.

The six wounded Aurora Police officers were all recovering and none of them suffered life-threatening injuries, said Ziman. The officers, all men, had police experience ranging from 2-30 years of service.

Police arrived on the scene around 1.30pm, and the injured police officers were wounded within five minutes.

After combing through the 30,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, police found the shooter hidden in the back machine shop, where he was killed by officers just before 3pm.

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