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Illinois factory gunman killed victims after being fired

Scott Olson, Getty Images, AFP | Police secure the area following a shooting at the Henry Pratt Company on February 15, 2019, in Aurora, Illinois.

The gunman who killed five fellow workers at an Illinois factory had just been fired, and the plant manager and a human resources official were among his victims, authorities said on Saturday.

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Gary Martin, 45, armed himself with a .40 caliber handgun, which he owned illegally, before reporting for a meeting where he was told he was fired, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told a news conference.

Most of the workers killed in the shooting on Friday at the Henry Pratt Company plant, 40 miles (65 km) west of Chicago, were in the room where Martin was terminated, Ziman said. Five police officers were wounded by gunfire before Martin was killed in a shootout with police.

Martin had bought the weapon, a Smith & Wesson handgun with a laser sight, in 2014 before authorities realized he had a prior felony conviction, Ziman said.

"The fact remains that some disgruntled person walked in and had access to a firearm that he shouldn't have had access to," Ziman said at the news conference.
 

Investigators were seeking to determine why Martin was not forced to relinquish his gun before the shooting, Ziman said. He should have been barred from owning a handgun because he had a 1995 conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi, she said, and he also had at least seven prior arrests in Illinois.

The bloodshed marked the latest spasm of gun violence in a nation where mass shootings have become almost commonplace, and came a day after the one-year anniversary of the massacre of 17 people by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Among those killed in the Aurora workplace shooting were Josh Pinkard, the plant manager, and Clayton Parks, the human resources manager, Aurora police said.

The other victims were identified as Trevor Wehner, a human resources intern, Russell Beyer, a mold operator, and Vicente Juarez, a stock room attendant and fork lift operator. Police did not give the ages of the victims.

Another employee at the plant, whose name was not released, was wounded in the shooting and treated at a hospital for non-life threatening injuries, police said.

At least two of the wounded police officers remained hospitalized on Saturday in stable condition, Ziman said.

A sixth officer was injured in the incident, but not by gunfire, police said.

The factory-warehouse plant employs about 200 workers and occupies 29,000 square feet in a working-class district of Aurora, the second-largest city in Illinois.

(REUTERS)

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