Husbands, fathers, uncles, sons and nephews. An intern on his first day at work. A Bears fan. A lifelong southerner who had moved north. These were the five men gunned down by a coworker Friday at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill.
Russell Beyer, 47, of Yorkville:
Beyer worked at Henry Pratt for more than two decades, according to a statement from the Aurora plant’s parent company Mueller Water Products. During his career Beyer “held most of the different jobs in the plant” and also was a union chairman. Yorkville Mayor Gary J. Golinski released a statement that included, “This was a senseless tragedy and we grieve for those who are no longer with us.”
Vicente Juarez, 54, of Oswego:
Juarez was a stock room attendant and fork lift operator. His family described him as “a husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, uncle, cousin” on a GoFundMe page that has been launched. Jorge Castro said Juarez was his uncle, and Castro spent most of Saturday at the family’s home as they grieved. Juarez was married with three children and seven grandchildren. “He was a jolly man,” Castro said of his uncle, adding that he enjoyed the Chicago Bears, traveling and spending time with his family.
Clayton Parks, 32, of Elgin:
Parks was the human resources manager at the plant. His wife, Abby Parks, wrote on Facebook Saturday morning, “Every time I’ve closed my eyes over the last twelve hours, I’ve opened them hoping to wake from a terrible dream, but that’s not the case. I’m living my worst nightmare.” She called Parks her “husband, my love, my best friend, and the incredible father” of their young son. Parks graduated from the business college at Northern Illinois University in 2014, according to NIU.
Josh Pinkard, 37, of Oswego:
“I love you, I’ve been shot at work.” That was a text message Pinkard sent to his wife, Terra, on Friday afternoon. In a post on Facebook Sunday morning, she wrote that Friday “was a literal nightmare.” She wrote that she tried to reach her husband by phone, text and FaceTime but got no response. So she drove to Henry Pratt, where police had blocked access. She then drove to several local hospitals before going to a staging area for victims’ relatives. It was there that she was told her husband was among the dead. Pinkard was the plant manager. An Alabama native, he was a 13-year veteran of Mueller Water Products who transferred to Henry Pratt in the spring of 2018, according to the company. Pinkard leaves his wife and their three young children. His cousin Amy Pinkard Hayes wrote on Facebook that “we will mourn in the days ahead we will cry and hold each other a little tighter …”
Trevor Wehner, 21, of DeKalb:
Wehner was a Northern Illinois University student who was starting an internship at Henry Pratt on Friday. He grew up about 30 miles south of Aurora in Sheridan and was expected to graduate from NIU in May with a degree in human resource management, according to his uncle, Jay Wehner. He said the young man was a “wonderful person” who was fun, caring and “always, always happy.” NIU President Lisa Freeman released a statement expressing “deep sadness” over the death of Wehner and alum Parks. “Loss like this is devastating and senseless,” Freeman said. “I ask our university community to please keep the Wehner and Parks families, friends and communities in your hearts and offer them caring thoughts.” Friday was the 11th anniversary of a shooting at NIU that took the lives of five students.
6th worker and five police officers wounded:
A male employee at Henry Pratt was treated at an area hospital for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds sustained during the shooting.
Five of the six Aurora police officers who were injured when they responded to the shooter have been released from hospitals, the Aurora Police Department announced Sunday afternoon. “One officer remains in good condition at an area hospital where he continues to recover from gunshot wounds to his lower extremity. We are hopeful for his release soon,” the department said in a posting on Facebook.
Five of the officers were wounded by gunshots during the shooting. A sixth officer suffered an injury not related to gunfire. The wounded officers are all men, ages 23 to 53. Their years with the department range from two years to 30 years.