Gunman Kills 5 In Aurora, Ill.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Six people are dead after a mass shooting at an industrial plant in a western suburb of Chicago. Five police officers were wounded in that violence yesterday. Police say the gunman was a 45-year-old man who had been let go from his job. We're learning more about his past at this hour. Patrick Smith from member station WBEZ joins us now. Patrick, thanks so much for being with us.
PATRICK SMITH, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.
SIMON: Tell us the latest, please, and what authorities in Aurora, Ill., are saying.
SMITH: Yeah, so we - we learned at a press conference just a bit ago a lot more about what happened, starting with Chief Kristen Ziman gave an update and some more insight into how the conflict started, how this shooting started. She said it started when Martin was called into a meeting...
SIMON: This is the man, the shooter. What's - what's the name?
SMITH: Yeah, Gary Martin.
SIMON: Gary Martin.
SMITH: 45-year-old Gary Martin.
SMITH: He was called into a meeting at the manufacturing plant that is known as Henry Pratt, there in Aurora.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
KRISTEN ZIMAN: During this meeting, he was terminated. And my understanding from the witnesses is that he opened fire right after the termination. We believe that several people who were involved in that meeting are the ones who are deceased.
SMITH: And we also learned, as you mentioned, more about Gary Martin. We learned that he had at least six arrests before this, including one for domestic battery. And we learned the identity of the victims in this - in the shooting.
SIMON: Tell us about the victims, please.
SMITH: Yeah, so the five people killed were Clayton Parks, Trevor Wehner, Russell Beyer, Vincente Juarez and Josh Pinkard, all employees at the - at the plant. Pinkard was the plant manager. Clayton Parks was the human resources manager. And Trevor Wehner was a human resources intern, who is also a student at Northern Illinois University.
As you heard the chief say, they believe that many of the people - most of the people were killed in that meeting where - where Martin was let go. She was not sure if - if other people were targeted outside of that room or if it was random, who he killed after that.
SIMON: And what about the condition of the five police officers who were wounded? It's - from every account we've heard, they were - they very bravely ran in, in the face of gunfire.
SMITH: Yeah, they - they ran in. The first wave was wounded, and more went in after that. All of the officers are in stable condition. One of them has already been released from the hospital. Another one is supposed to be released shortly. So good news on that front, from all the officers who were injured.
SIMON: And I gather the gun that was used may not have been legally registered.
SMITH: It was not. It was legally purchased, actually. That's something that we learned today as well, which is that - that Martin - he applied for a gun permit here in Illinois. He got it. He bought a handgun. But then he applied for a concealed carry permit, which requires a fingerprint. When they ran that fingerprint, they found out about a felony conviction in Mississippi.
That, you know, that meant he didn't get the concealed carry permit. It also meant that he did not have a valid gun license. He got a letter - or at least a letter was sent to him - saying he needed to turn that handgun in.
And that's where we don't know what agency or if any agencies dropped the ball because the chief said that they're still investigating what happened. We know he didn't turn that gun in, obviously, because that was the gun that he used in the shooting. But she said they weren't sure yet if any agency followed up on that letter asking him to turn that handgun in. And she wasn't even sure who was supposed to do that.
SIMON: Patrick, you've been speaking with people in Aurora in the wake of this event, on the year anniversary, of course, of the shootings in Parkland, Fla., almost exactly a year ago. I wonder if people in Aurora mentioned the Parkland anniversary as well.
SMITH: You know, some did. A lot of the people I spoke to were really focused on the tragedy that happened there in their own hometown. But, you know, I spoke to one guy named Greg Zanis. He actually gained some national renown long before this happened for going out to mass shooting sites across the country and putting up crosses to memorialize the dead. When I spoke to him yesterday, he pretty quickly brought up the fact that we had just mourned the one-year anniversary of Parkland.
GREG ZANIS: It just seems like America doesn't get a break. But we never thought something like this would happen in our town. You know, this is our town, now our streets are covered in blood.
SMITH: So that was Aurora resident Greg Zanis talking about this tragedy and, you know, how it fits into other tragedies in America.
SIMON: Patrick Smith of WBEZ in Chicago, thanks very much for being on duty for us.
SMITH: Thank you.
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