Nation

Gunman in Illinois had lost his permit because of a felony

Gary Martin, 45, who was killed after a rampage Friday that left five co-workers dead, had already had his state weapons permit revoked because of a felony assault conviction.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Gary Martin, 45, who was killed after a rampage Friday that left five co-workers dead, had already had his state weapons permit revoked because of a felony assault conviction.

AURORA, Ill. — An angry worker who opened fire inside a suburban Chicago factory where he had worked for years was barred from having the handgun he was carrying, officials said Saturday.

Gary Martin, 45, who died in an exchange of fire with police after a rampage Friday that left five co-workers dead and at least six other people wounded, had already had his state weapons permit revoked because of a felony assault conviction from years earlier, police in Aurora, Ill., said. Still, they said, his gun was never taken away.

“Some disgruntled person walked in and had access to a firearm that he shouldn’t have had access to,” said Kristen Ziman, chief of police in Aurora, where the shooting took place.

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Ziman said police were trying to determine why Martin still had a gun.

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According to Illinois gun law, a person must be granted a Firearm Owners Identification card, or FOID, to possess a firearm. At least 2 million people in the state have the cards.

But under the law, the process to keep firearms out of the hands of a person whose card has been revoked is weak, allowing many people to keep their weapons with little threat of enforcement or penalty.

That appears to have been the case with Martin, who police said received a card in January 2014. In March 2014, he applied for a concealed-carry permit, and during that background check it was discovered that he had a felony conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi from 1995.

The Illinois State Police then revoked Martin’s card and mailed him a letter ordering him to relinquish his firearm and card within 48 hours.

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It is typical in Illinois, officials said, for local law enforcement to fail to take action at that point and to seize firearms if they are not surrendered voluntarily. In 2016, only about 4,000 of the 11,000 people whose cards were revoked submitted the mandatory reports explaining what they did with their guns, The Chicago Tribune reported in 2017.

Sergeant Bill Rowley, a spokesman for the Aurora Police Department, said the police had no record of being notified by State Police that Martin had not volunteered his firearm as required in 2014. It was unclear whether Martin, who lived in Aurora at the time of his death, also lived there in 2014.

A day after the shooting, police gave a fuller account of the deadly events inside the Henry Pratt Co. warehouse Friday afternoon, and identified the five workers — all apparently co-workers of Martin — who were killed.

The victims included some of the company’s most experienced workers but also its newest: Josh Pinkard, who was the plant manager of the warehouse, was killed in the shooting, as was Trevor Wehner, who was a student at Northern Illinois University and an intern in the company’s human resources department.

Also killed, police said, were Vicente Juarez, stock room attendant and forklift operator; Clayton Parks, human resources manager; and Russell Beyer, mold operator.

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Police first received several 911 calls at 1:24 p.m. Friday, as frantic callers said there was a shooter at the warehouse. Martin had been summoned to what police described as a “termination meeting” at the warehouse where he had worked for at least 15 years. At least two victims were shot at the scene of that meeting.

Four minutes later, police arrived and were confronted by the gunman. Two of the first four officers to arrive were shot and transported to hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening.

According to police, Martin then retreated into the 29,000-square-foot building, hiding from officers in a machine shop near the back of the facility. It took about 90 minutes for officers to find, shoot, and kill him.

Family members of Martin arrived at the Aurora police station Friday afternoon, weeping and hugging one another after officers told them that he was dead.

“He was the shooter,” said Tameka Martin, who said she was Martin’s sister. “He shot officers. If they did shoot him and kill him, they were, I guess, defending themselves.”

Martin said her brother had told his family that he had lost his job at Henry Pratt. At dinner a few nights ago at their mother’s home, Martin would barely speak about it. He was “very depressed,” she said.