AURORA, Ill. (WLS) —
As a memorial outside the Henry Pratt Company continues to grow, city officials spoke Tuesday about how Aurora plans to move forward as a community.
It’s been four days since the mass shooting in which 45-year-old Gary Martin shot and killed five employees during a termination meeting. He also wounded five officers who responded to the shooting.
The afternoon press conference was part of the mayor’s regular schedule and is held on the second Tuesday afternoon of each month. This time Mayor Richard Irvin was joined by the chiefs of the Aurora Fire and Aurora Police departments, as well as officials with volunteer groups like the American Red Cross that are providing support in the wake of the tragedy.
Irvin said the city is doing everything they can to come together and stand strong, and are focused on supporting one another as they recover.
Employees voluntarily came to work even though the warehouse won’t return to full production until next week. Counselors are on site to help ease the unimaginable pain as the community grieves together.
“It just breaks my heart because you never know when something like this is gonna happen and you never expect it to happen so close to home,” said Aurora resident Heather Longacre.
Four of the injured officers have been released from the hospital, officials said. The one remaining officer is in good condition and officials are hopeful he will be released soon.
Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said she has met personally with each of the victims’ families, and called it one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do.
Irvin said they plan to attend the funerals of all five victims, the first of which is Wednesday.
Trevor Wehner was a few months from college graduation, working his first day of an internship. Vicente Juarez, Clayton Parks, Josh Pinkard and Russell Beyer were all fathers.
Pinkard sent his wife one last message telling her he loved her.
“I know he loves his wife. He always talks about his wife,” said Blanca Torress, former coworker of Josh Pinkard’s.
Martin, the gunman, died in a shootout with police. Tuesday morning, his cousin put a cross with his name on it in front of the building away from the growing memorial as she sobbed in prayer.
“My auntie is grieving…She is praying for everybody,” she said.
In a Facebook Tuesday morning, Aurora Ziman said, “It’s been 96 hours since I heard the call go out over our radios and listened to the incident unfold. I was on my way to the scene when I listened to the first officer advise he’d been shot. And then the next one. And then everything went dark around the edges. Every time an officer was hit, another went in. No one retreated.”
The city has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the victims’ families.
A visitation for Wehner, who started his internship on the day of the shooting, will be held 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Gabel-Dunn Funeral Home Ltd., 333 W. Church St., Sheridan. Funeral to begin at 7 p.m. at the funeral home. Afterwards, visitors are invited to the Sheridan Fire Department for further celebration of Trevor’s life.
A visitation for Juarez will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Dunn Family Funeral Home at 1801 S. Douglas Rd, in Oswego. His funeral is 10 a.m. Friday at Dunn, followed by burial at Spring Lake Cemetery in Aurora.
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