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Gunman kills 5, wounds 5 police officers in Aurora, Illinois (UPDATED)

  • Active-Shooter-Aurora

    Police officers armed with rifles gather at the scene where an active shooter was reported in Aurora, Ill., on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP)

    AP

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Chicago Tribune and Aurora Beacon-News staff writers

AURORA, Ill. — A gunman opened fire inside an Aurora manufacturing plant Friday afternoon, killing five people and wounding five police officers who had responded to the scene before he was killed in a shootout, police said.

The shooting stunned Aurora — Illinois’ second largest city — and reverberated throughout the state and nation, becoming the latest mass shooting in the United States.

Bob Gonzalez was having a conversation with a client when he saw a few police cars fly past, bound for the nearby Henry Pratt Co. He thought at first they were responding to a fire, but the cars just kept coming — Aurora police, state police, even a vehicle from the Department of Homeland Security.

He soon realized the emergency wasn’t a fire. It was a mass shooting in an industrial park a few hundred feet from his office.

“I’ve seen it on the news happening someplace else, but never here in Aurora,” said Gonzalez, an insurance agent who also serves as the board president of West Aurora School District 129.

A few hours later, police gave the somber toll: Five people were killed and five police officers were wounded by a gunman who worked at Henry Pratt, a manufacturer of industrial valves. A sixth officer suffered a knee injury. It wasn’t clear how he was injured, but he wasn’t shot.

The gunman, 45-year-old Gary Martin, was also killed in the shootout, authorities said. The names of his victims were not released as of Friday evening.

Authorities did not immediately offer a motive, but some reports said Martin had recently lost his job at the plant.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said the department received multiple calls at 1:24 p.m. about a shooting at the company, on Archer Avenue. Officers arrived four minutes later and immediately drew fire, she said — two of the first four officers entering the building were shot.

More officers arrived, and three more were shot, she said. As some tried to care for gunshot victims, she said, others tracked Martin through the 29,000-square-foot building.

“When they located the offender, they engaged in gunfire with him, ultimately killing him,” she said at a news conference.

Police said two of the wounded officers were airlifted to Chicago-area trauma hospitals.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, standing with Aurora officials at the news conference, said there was no way for him to prepare for this kind of event, the first tragedy of his administration.

“There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams and their futures,” he said. “There are no words to express our gratitude to the officers who were wounded in the line of duty as they responded to the gravest kind of danger they could face.”

Tiffany Probst, whose father works in the building, told the Chicago Tribune she first heard about the shooting when her friend alerted her to a Facebook post. She jumped in her car and drove toward the scene, but couldn’t get close.

Her father doesn’t carry a cellphone, so she had no way to reach him. She sat in her car and watched the police response on her phone.

“We’re sitting there staring at the screen and watching SWAT about to go in,” she said.

Finally, after about 15 minutes, her father managed to find someone with a phone and called her, and relief replaced her growing panic.

As the investigation continued, a Kane County sheriff’s office bomb squad vehicle could be seen outside what was believed to be Martin’s apartment building on Selmartin Road.

Mary McKnight, who lives in the area, stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son’s birthday, to a flurry of police cars, officers and media trucks. “This is a strange thing to come home to,” she said.

People at the home of a relative of the Martin family in the western suburbs were visibly emotional and upset Friday evening. They asked for privacy to mourn.

“We are mourning for the victims and we are mourning for our families,” said one woman, who declined to be identified but spoke on behalf of the family. “We need peace … We’re worried about the other people who were killed and hurt. Our family has to mourn too because we lost one too.”

Officials with Henry Pratt could not immediately be reached for comment. The company began in 1901 as a metal fabricating shop and is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Mueller Water Co.

Contributing to this story: Megan Jones, Steve Lord, Sarah Freishtat and Denise Crosby of the Aurora Beacon-News; Rafael Guerrero of the Courier-News; Erin Hegarty and Suzanne Baker of the Naperville Sun; John Keilman, Angie Leventis Lourgos, Stacy St. Clair, Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Madeline Buckley, Dawn Rhodes and Kate Thayer of the Chicago Tribune; and freelance reporters Linda Girardi and Clifford Ward.

The Latest: Police say workplace gunman was being fired

AURORA, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on a shooting at a business in Aurora, Illinois (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

Police say the gunman who killed five people at a suburban Chicago business was a 15-year employee who was being fired.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman says 45-year-old Gary Martin "was being terminated" Friday afternoon before he opened fire at the Henry Pratt Co. warehouse in Aurora.

Five police officers also were shot and wounded before Martin was located in the warehouse. Ziman says Martin was shot and killed.

Aurora is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

___

7:10 p.m.

Police have taped off a suburban Chicago apartment unit where the suspect in the fatal shootings of five people in an industrial warehouse was believed to have lived.

Aurora, Illinois, Police Chief Kristen Ziman identified the gunman Friday as 45-year-old Gary Martin. She said he was believed to have been an employee at Henry Pratt Co. Ziman said Martin killed five people before he was fatally shot by police.

Neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin's unit talking and wondering among themselves if they knew or had come in contact with the shooter. The multi-unit complex is a mix of apartments and condos.

Mary McKnight stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son's birthday, to a flurry of police cars, officers and media trucks. "This is a strange thing to come home to," she said.

___

6:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says law enforcement officers did a "great job" handling an active shooter situation at an industrial park in suburban Chicago.

Police say the gunman killed five people and shot and wounded five police officers Friday afternoon at the Henry Pratt Co. plant in Aurora.

Authorities then shot and killed the suspect, who has been identified as 45-year-old Gary Martin.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman says a sixth officer was wounded but not by gunfire.

Trump sent a tweet as news of the casualties was unfolding, sending his "Heartfelt condolences to all of the victims and their families," adding "America is with you!"

Trump is spending the weekend at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

___

6 p.m.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has commended the "amazing" work of law enforcement officers who responded to the scene of a shooting in suburban Chicago that left five people dead and five police officers shot and wounded.

Pritzker told reporters after the shooting in Aurora Friday afternoon that the officers "rushed toward danger, and in doing that ... saved countless lives."

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Zimen said a sixth officer was hurt but not hit by gunfire.

Pritzker extended his sympathies to the victims' families, saying there is nothing he can say to reduce their pain, but that they should "know our state grieves with you"

___

5:50 p.m.

Police have identified the gunman who killed five people at a suburban Chicago business and shot and wounded five police officers.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told reporters that 45-year-old Gary Martin also shot and wounded five police officers in the attack Friday afternoon at the Henry Pratt Co. warehouse in Aurora.

Ziman says Martin was shot and killed.

Workers at the plant earlier said Martin was employed there.

Aurora is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

___

5:45 p.m.

The chief of police says five people were killed and five officers were wounded in a shooting at a business in suburban Chicago.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told reporters that the officers were fired upon Friday afternoon as soon as they entered the Henry Pratt Co. building in Aurora.

Ziman says the gunman was also killed.

Aurora is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

___

4 p.m.

A spokesman for the coroner's office says at least one person is dead following a shooting at a business in suburban Chicago.

Kane County coroner's office spokesman Chris Nelson says at least one person was killed in the attack Friday afternoon at the Henry Pratt Co. building in Aurora.

City spokesman Clayton Muhammad earlier told ABC7 that the suspect had been "neutralized." He did not elaborate.

Muhammad also says four officers were wounded in the shooting and are in stable condition.

Muhammad did not say the officers had been shot or if anyone else was hurt.

Aurora is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

___

3:50 p.m.

A city spokesman says four police officers were wounded in a shooting at a business in suburban Chicago.

Clayton Muhammad, the director of communications for the city of Aurora, told ABC7 that the officers are in stable condition following the shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. building Friday afternoon.

Muhammad did not say the officers were shot or if anyone else was hurt.

Authorities say a suspect has been apprehended.

Aurora is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

___

3:40 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on a shooting in Illinois and is monitoring the situation.

Spokesman Sarah Sanders issued her statement Friday as Trump prepared to depart for a weekend trip to his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Authorities in Aurora, Illinois, have been monitoring an active shooter situation at an industrial park. City officials report that a shooter has been apprehended.

Police have not said if anyone has been shot. Aurora is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

___

3:17 p.m.

A suburban Chicago school district is keeping all of its students in their classrooms as police investigate an active shooter situation at an industrial park in Aurora.

West Aurora School District 129 says on its webpage that officials Friday afternoon are "holding all district students in place for their safety."

The district also says that per directions from the county sheriff, the district has been advised to go into soft lockdown situation and that "teaching will continue with reduced movement."

A building housing that houses the Henry Pratt Co. has been swarmed with police and paramedics after reports of the shooting.

It isn't clear if anyone has been wounded in the shooting.

___

3:15 p.m.

City officials in Aurora, Illinois, say a shooter has been apprehended.

The city sent a tweet Friday afternoon saying there was an active shooter in an industrial park and that police were on the scene.

They say the shooter is in custody and the area still is on lockdown.

Live TV reports show dozens of first responder vehicles outside a building housing the Henry Pratt Co.

Police have not said if anyone has been shot.

___

3:05 p.m.

An employee at the Illinois company where a shooting has been reported says the gunman is a co-worker.

John Probst told ABC7 that he ran out of the back door of the Henry Pratt Co. building in Aurora as the shooting unfolded Friday afternoon.

Probst says he recognized the gunman and that he works at the company. He said the gunman has "a pistol with a laser."

Probst says he wasn't hurt but that another colleague was "bleeding pretty bad."

Aurora is 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

___

2:45 p.m.

City officials say there is an active shooter situation at an industrial park in Aurora, Illinois.

The city sent a tweet Friday afternoon saying police are on the scene.

Live TV reports show dozens of first responder vehicles outside a building housing the Henry Pratt Co.

Police have not said if anyone has been shot.

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