Five killed as gunman opens fire at Illinois warehouse

Bev Horne/Daily Herald/via REUTERS

A gunman opened fire on Friday at an Illinois manufacturing warehouse, apparently as he was being terminated from his job there, killing five fellow workers and wounding five police officers before he was slain by police, authorities said.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said the assailant, identified as 45-year-old Gary Martin, had worked at the Henry Pratt Company for 15 years before Friday’s violence unfolded at the firm’s sprawling warehouse in Aurora, 40 miles (65 km) west of Chicago.

At a late-night news conference, Ziman said it was not yet clear whether the suspect, who was armed with a handgun, was carrying the weapon at the time he was being terminated or whether he “went to retrieve it” before opening fire.

The chief said she lacked any immediate information about whether the gunman had a criminal history, but public records showed Martin was convicted in 1995 for aggravated assault in Mississippi.

The bloodshed marked the latest spasm of gun violence in a nation where mass shootings have become almost commonplace. It came one day after the one-year anniversary of the massacre of 17 people by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The five police officers who were struck by gunfire and a sixth employee who was wounded were being treated at local hospitals and were expected to survive, Ziman told reporters.

She said the five wounded officers were wounded in the first five minutes of their arrival at the plant, which occupies 29,000 square feet, Ziman said. She added that no further gunshots were fired until additional police confronted the suspect about 90 minutes later inside the building, where they shot him dead.

Video on local media showed numerous police cars surrounding a large commercial building in Aurora, the ground covered in snow.