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Local

Gunman said he would kill co-workers prior to shooting

Report details ordeal at Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora; forensics show Martin may have shot himself

AURORA – Hours before Gary Martin shot and killed five of his co-workers at Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora and wounded five Aurora police officers on Feb. 15, he threatened to kill everyone in the plant and injure police if he were fired.

According to a report released April 29 by Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon on the Feb. 15 shooting, Martin had spoke to a few employees that morning and was concerned that he might be fired for a safety violation. He allegedly told one employee, “If I get fired, I’m going to kill every (expletive) in here. I am going to blow police up.”

That employee did not report the statement to anyone because he believed the offender was always making “off the wall” statements and, therefore, was not concerned, the report stated. The employee also was aware that Martin carried a gun in his vehicle, but had never seen him with a gun inside the building and wasn’t aware that Martin had a gun with him Feb. 15, according to the report.

“It is believed the offender brought the gun and ammunition into the plant that morning when he arrived for work as there is no video evidence of him returning to his car prior to the shooting,” McMahon stated in his report.

Martin, 45, of Aurora died that day as well, the result of multiple gunshot wounds occurring during the shootout with police.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman reacted with frustration and disappointment in hearing that Martin made those comments to a fellow employee and that the employee chose not to tell police.

“If it turns out to be nothing, so be it,” Ziman said. “One warning could have helped, and I hope that sends the message.”

Ziman made those comments after the April 29 ceremony at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora that honored the injured police officers and others providing help that day.

Among those killed in the shooting was Sheridan native Trevor Wehner, 21. The DeKalb resident was a student at Northern Illinois University and a human resources intern at Henry Pratt.

Wehner had just begun working that day in the human resources department at Mueller Water Products, the parent company of Henry Pratt Co., when he was included in a meeting Feb. 15 at which Martin was being fired.

Also killed were Clayton Parks, 32, of Elgin, a 2014 NIU graduate who was the human resources manager; Russell Beyer, 47, of Yorkville, a mold operator and union chairman; Vicente Juarez, 54, of Oswego, a stock room attendant and forklift operator; and Josh Pinkard, 37, of Oswego, the plant manager.

Timothy Williams was shot three times – once in his right arm and twice in the back. According to McMahon’s report, it was Williams who alerted fellow employees to what was going on.

Williams, a union steward and factory worker at Henry Pratt Co., was present at the termination meeting in a second-floor office where the shooting started. He was shot in the wrist as he ran from the room, according to McMahon’s report.

“Employees on the first floor witnessed Mr. Williams fleeing down the steps and the offender chasing him with a gun in his hand,” McMahon’s report shows. “Employees yelled at the offender to stop. The offender continued to pursue Williams and eventually shot him twice more in the back.”

Williams is suing the Illinois State Police for not following proper procedures. Martin was disqualified from owning a weapon because of an out-of-state felony conviction. However, he was able to obtain a firearm owner’s identification card. Authorities discovered the felony conviction when Martin applied for a concealed carry license; although they denied his application, authorities never revoked his FOID card or demanded Martin surrender his gun.

About 1 p.m., Williams received a text message from Parks, the human resource manager, regarding a disciplinary meeting with Martin to address a write-up for not wearing safety glasses, according to the report.

Martin was presented with the write-up and then told they would begin the termination process. Martin began using profanity, and Pinkard said to him, “OK, it’s over.” Martin agreed, echoing, “Yeah, It’s over,” the report stated.

Williams started to get up when he noticed rapid movement and heard gunshots. He ran to the door and was shot in the wrist; he ran out of the room and began yelling, “Gary is shooting!”

Other employees saw Williams running downstairs with Martin chasing him with a gun. Martin eventually shot Williams twice in the back, but Williams survived.

Martin went to the loading dock area and targeted Vicente Juarez, a stock room attendant and forklift operator who was among those killed that day, the report stated.

Martin shot at officers who were arriving in response to the 911 call, the report stated.

Police climbed a rack in the warehouse and saw Martin sitting in a chair, appearing to be waiting to ambush police, the report stated.

An officer fired his rifle twice at Martin, the first shot hitting him in the chest and the second in the head, the report stated.

Martin was shot six times: once in the middle of his forehead; once through the middle of the chest, which perforated the stomach; several to the left lung and heart; and once through the right jaw and into the skull, which based upon forensics likely was self-inflicted, the report stated.

The report concluded that the officers involved in the incident were justified in firing at Martin.

Reporter Brenda Schory contributed to this report.

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