Updated at 9:45 p.m.
A gunman opened fire at an Aurora manufacturing company Friday afternoon, leaving five employees dead and five police officers injured before cops shot and killed the shooter, police said.
Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman identified the shooter as 45-year-old Gary Martin. She said police “believe he was an employee” of the Henry Pratt Company.
Ziman said Martin had worked at Henry Pratt for 15 years and was going to be terminated on Friday.
Martin’s sister, Tameka Martin, gave a different version of his employment history. She said Martin had worked at Henry Pratt for at least 20 years until he lost his job a couple of weeks ago.
“He shot officers, so if they did shoot him and kill him, they was, I guess, defending themselves.” Martin said.
The names of the five people found dead inside the building have not yet been released, but police said they were all Henry Pratt employees.
Another employee was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
“Today is a sad day in the city of Aurora,” Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said. “The horrible feeling that we get when we see it on the news, to experience it firsthand is even more painful.”
Ziman said officers responded at 1:24 p.m. to “multiple calls for an active shooter” and were “fired upon immediately.”
Police eventually entered the 29,000-square-foot building, where they found Martin with a Smith & Wesson handgun. Officers killed Martin during an exchange of gunfire, Ziman said.
Five officers were shot — including two of the first four to arrive — during the standoff, the chief said. All five were taken to local hospitals, and two were airlifted to the Chicago area for further treatment. Some of the officers remained in surgery Friday night, but all the officers’ injuries are considered non-life-threatening, police said.
President Donald Trump tweeted, “Great job by law enforcement in Aurora, Illinois. Heartfelt condolences to all of the victims and their families. America is with you!”
“May God bless the brave law enforcement officers who continue to run toward danger,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a Friday evening news conference.
The wounded were taken to:
- Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora was treating two patients, and a third was transferred by helicopter to another hospital, spokesman Matt Wakely said.
- Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge each had one patient from the shooting, spokeswoman Kate Eller said.
- Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora received three patients from the shooting, and all are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, spokeswoman Courtney Satlak said.
‘There’s these crazy things that happen’
The Henry Pratt Company, which makes valves for the potable water, wastewater, power generation and industrial markets, is headquartered in Aurora, a city of more than 200,000 people about 40 miles west of Chicago.
It’s about 1.5 miles from Aurora University, which was being used by officials as a unification center where family members can get more information on the victims.
Aurora resident Greg Zanis, who gained national attention for putting up crosses at mass shooting sites across the country, said he never believed a mass shooting would happen in his hometown.
“Now our streets are covered in blood,” Zanis said. “Streets I’ve been driving down for 50, 60 years. And now this happens.”
Zanis said he’d like to make crosses with the victims’ names and put them up near the Henry Pratt Company.
Earlier, all schools in West Aurora School District 129 were on a soft lockdown. Parents were alerted through mass text and phone messages. Schools lifted the lockdown about 3:30 p.m. and began dismissing students in 40-minute intervals.
Aurora parent Carly Zabinski, who is a teacher in a different district, got some of those texts and phone calls.
“Being a teacher myself, I know the training teachers go through to keep students calm and safe,” she said. “I’ve been through that training.”
Zabinski said she knew the school had a plan in place, but she was still scared for her son, who is a second-grader at Goodwin Elementary School, about five miles from the shooting.
“I’m trying to prepare myself with how to approach this with a 7-year-old,” she said as she made her way to pick up her son. “How can I make him understand he’s safe, but at the same time there’s these crazy things that happen.”
Martin’s neighbors react
At Acorn Woods Condominiums, where Martin lived, a mix of brick apartments and condos are nestled on a quiet street just a mile and a half from the shooting.
Neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin’s unit Friday evening and wondered among themselves if they knew him.
Jennifer White, who said she lived in his building, described Martin as a “normal guy” who seemed to live alone and “kept to himself.”
Christy Fonseca said she often worries about some of the gang-related crimes and shootings around her mother’s Aurora neighborhood. But she never expected the type of phone call she got from her mom on Friday, warning her to be careful with an active shooter loose in the town.
“In Aurora, period, we’d never thought anything like this would happen,” Fonseca said.
Susie An, Michael Puente and the Associated Press contributed to this reporting.