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Fired worker kills 5 people, wounds 5 officers at business outside Chicago, police say

A shooter has been apprehended after opening fire in an industrial park in Aurora, Ill.

Police officers armed with rifles stage near a commercial building where an active shooter was reported in the 600 block of Archer Avenue in Aurora, Ill., Feb. 15, 2019. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune / TNS)
Police officers armed with rifles stage near a commercial building where an active shooter was reported in the 600 block of Archer Avenue in Aurora, Ill., Feb. 15, 2019. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune / TNS)Read moreTNS

AURORA, Ill. (AP) — A gunman opened fire at a manufacturing plant in suburban Chicago on Friday, killing five people and wounding five police officers before he was fatally shot, police said.

Aurora, Ill., Police Chief Kristen Ziman identified the gunman as 45-year-old Gary Martin and said he was a 15-year employee at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, a city of about 200,000 people roughly 40 miles west of Chicago.

Ziman said Martin “was being terminated” Friday afternoon before he opened fire at the warehouse.

She told reporters that officers arrived within four minutes of receiving reports of the shooting and were fired upon as soon as they entered the 29,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse.

"May God bless the brave law enforcement officers who continue to run toward danger," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at the news conference.

Hospitals reported treating at least seven patients from the shooting, though their conditions weren't released. Two of the officers were airlifted to trauma centers in Chicago, Ziman said. Officials did not say the total number of people injured other than the police officers. Police said they did not know his motive.

Tameka Martin, who identified herself to WBEZ Chicago as the sister of the gunman, said Martin had been laid off from Henry Pratt two weeks ago. She said Martin had worked there at least 20 years.

“He shot officers, so if they did shoot him and kill him, they was, I guess, defending themselves.” Martin told WBEZ.

Several ATF teams responded to the shooting and were at the scene, according to the agency’s Chicago spokeswoman, and the FBI said it also was responding.

Tiffany Probst, 38, a legal assistant said her best friend saw a post on Facebook about the shooting and she started texting “that your dad might be inside!”

Her father, John, has worked as a machinist in the building for over 40 years. He has three grown children and has five grandchildren. Probst raced down to the factory but it was all blocked by police.

“I knew there was no way to call him because he’s old school and never has a cell phone,” she said. Then she heard from friends father was giving TV interviews and talking with the police.

“He’s safe and talking to the news,” she said. “He’s not much of a talker, but when it comes to this, I can tell by his voice he’s real shaken up. We are looking forward to giving him a hug.”

The company makes valves for industrial purposes.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) tweeted Friday that she was following the situation. “This is a scary, sad day for all Illinoisans and Americans,” Duckworth wrote. “Thank you to the brave first responders who risked their lives this afternoon and apprehended the shooter.”

“My heart breaks for Aurora,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D., Ill.) tweeted. “I’m tracking updates on the situation with my staff. Thank you to the members of law enforcement who are responding to the emergency.”

The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and monitoring the situation as he prepared to depart for a weekend trip to his home in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump tweeted his thanks to law enforcement officers in Aurora and offered his condolences to the victims and their families. “America is with you,” he said.

At Acorn Woods Condominiums, where Martin lived, a mix of brick apartments and condos nestled on a quiet street just a mile and a half from the shooting, neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin’s unit talking and wondering among themselves if they knew or had come in contact with him.

Mary McKnight stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son’s birthday, to find a flurry of police cars, officers, and media trucks.

“This is a strange thing to come home to, right?” she said. She had just learned that the shooter lived close by and his unit in the complex had been taped off by police.

Christy Fonseca often worries about some of the gang-related crimes and shootings around her mother's Aurora neighborhood. But she never expected the type of phone call she got from her mom on Friday, warning her to be careful with an active shooter loose in the town.

Police cars with screaming sirens revved past her as she drove to her mother’s house, where the Henry Pratt building is visible from the porch stoop. It was only when they flipped on the television news that they realized Martin had killed people just a few hundred feet away.

“In Aurora, period, we’d never thought anything like this would happen,” Fonseca, a lifelong resident of the Chicago suburb, said as she looked out at the factory.

Presence Mercy Medical Center was treating two patients and a third had been transferred by helicopter to another hospital, spokesman Matt Wakely said. Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital each had one patient from the shooting, spokeswoman Kate Eller said. Rush Copley Medical Center received three patients from the shooting and all are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, spokeswoman Courtney Satlak said.

This article contains information from the Washington Post.