Shock as gunman kills 5 at Aurora plant: ‘I’ve seen it on the news happening someplace else. But never here in Aurora.’

By Chicago Tribune, Aurora Beacon-News staff |

Greg Zanis, quietly drop off five crosses just south of the Pratt plant, early Saturday Feb. 16, 2019.

A 15-year veteran of a manufacturing business who was being terminated opened fire inside the company’s Aurora plant Friday afternoon, killing five people and wounding five police officers who responded to the scene, police said.

Authorities said the gunman, 45-year-old Gary Martin, of Aurora, was also killed in the shootout at Henry Pratt Co., a manufacturer of industrial valves. The names of the victims were not released Friday evening. A sixth officer suffered a knee injury. It wasn’t clear how he was injured, but he wasn’t shot.

Aurora police Chief Kristen Ziman said the department received multiple calls at 1:24 p.m. about a shooting at the company, located at 641 Archer Ave. on the city’s west side. Officers arrived four minutes later and immediately drew fire, she said — two of the first four officers entering the building were shot. Ziman said the shooter was armed with a Smith & Wesson handgun and fired shots from a window as authorities approached.

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,” Ziman said at a news conference.

Police said two of the wounded officers were airlifted to Chicago-area trauma hospitals. Local hospitals said they were caring for at least 10 patients hurt in the shooting. More than 200 employees work at the plant, but Ziman could not say how many were there Friday. The police chief added that the shooter acted alone, and hundreds of law enforcement officers from various agencies helped at the scene.

“Everybody runs towards the gunfire,” she said. “Again, that was the whole point, to try and keep our citizens safe.”

Local businessman Bob Gonzalez was having a conversation with a client Friday afternoon when he saw a few police cars fly past, bound for the nearby manufacturing plant. 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.

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