AURORA, Ill. — The gunman who shot and killed five co-workers and injured five police officers after he was fired from his job had his gun permit revoked five years ago after a background check turned up a prior felony conviction in Mississippi, police said Saturday.
The gunman, Gary Martin, 45, was shot and killed by police after officers swarmed the scene Friday at the Henry Pratt Company plant in Aurora, Illinois.
Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said investigators are trying to determine why Martin was able to continue to possess a Smith & Wesson handgun even after it was discovered he was rejected for a conceal carry permit.
“Absolutely he was not supposed to be in possession of a gun,” Ziman said.
Three of the victims, including two who worked in the human resources department, were shot during the meeting where Martin was being terminated, Ziman said. The other two were killed in another part of the 29,000 square foot warehouse, Ziman said.
Police still do not know why Martin was being fired.
Ziman told reporters that Martin had six prior arrests, including one in 2008 for a domestic matter and one in 2017 for disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property.
She said he had been issued an Illinois firearms I.D. and then purchased the Smith & Wesson handgun from a local dealer in March 11, 2014. The weapon was believed to be used in the rampage.
Five days later, when he applied for a concealed carry permit, his fingerprints turned up a felony conviction in Mississippi in 1995. At that point, the firearms I.D. permitting him to carry the handgun was revoked.
“During the fingerprinting and background process it was discovered that he had a felony conviction for aggravated assault out of Mississippi,” Ziman said. “It should be noted that this conviction would not have shown up on a criminal background check conducted for an FOID card.”
In addition to the five fatalities, five Aurora officers received non-life threatening gunshot wounds during the rampage, Ziman said. A sixth officer received a minor injury not related to gunfire.
The dead were identified as Clayton Parks, of Elgin, Ill., a human resources manager; Trevor Wehner, of DeKalb, Ill.; a human resources intern and student at Northern Illinois University; Russell Beyer, of Yorkville, Ill, a mold operator; Vicente Juarez of Oswego, Ill., a stock room attendant and fork lift operator; and Josh Pinkard, of Oswego, Ill. was the plant manager.
The Henry Pratt Company, about 40 miles west of Chicago, is one of North America’s largest manufacturers of valves for the potable water, wastewater, power generation and industrial markets. It’s a subsidiary of Mueller Water Products, Inc., a NYSE publicly traded company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company was founded in 1901.
During World War I, the Henry Pratt Company manufactured propellers for Liberty Ships and in the 1920s, the company made products for electric power plants and gas plants.
The company has a tradition of industry firsts. When welding came into use in the mid 1920s, Pratt was instrumental in the design and production of the first welded smoke stack, which was installed at Commonwealth Edison’s Fisk Street Generating Station.
Contributing: Associated Press