The shooting in Aurora raises questions about gun license checks


by DON BABWIN and CARYN ROUSSEAU, Associated Press

This undated booking photo provided by the Aurora Illinois Police Department shows Gary Montez Martin, who allegedly killed several people in a manufacturing warehouse in suburban Chicago after his dismissal on Friday, February 15, 2019. (Department of police from Aurora Illinois via AP)

AURORA, Ill. (AP) – Five years ago, a first background check did not uncover a crime conviction out of the country that would have prevented a man from buying the gun he was using. had used to kill five of his colleagues and wound six other people, according to authorities, including five police officers, in a manufacturing plant located in Chicago.

Gary Martin, killed in a shootout with officers on Friday, ending his lethal rampage at Henry Pratt's company in Aurora, received an ID card from the gun owner in January 2014 after A background check did not demonstrate a 1995 serious assault conviction in Mississippi, said Saturday the Aurora police chief, Kristen Ziman.

He bought the Smith & Wesson handgun that he had used during Friday's attack, two months later, on March 11, 2014, she said. Five days later, he applied for a concealed carry permit, which included a more rigorous background check using fingerprints and highlighting his criminal conviction in Mississippi, which had led the state police to Illinois to revoke its license.

"Absolutely, he was not supposed to be in possession of a gun," Ziman said.

Martin was able to keep his gun despite the loss of his license, raising questions about what the state had done to convince him to abandon it.

Authorities announced Saturday that Martin had pulled out the gun and started firing as soon as he had learned that he was fired from his 15-year job in the industrial valve manufacturer.

Martin killed the other three people in the room with him and two others just outside, Ziman said. Among the people killed, there was a student starting a human resources internship at the factory that day. Martin also injured a sixth worker – who should survive – before the police started arriving, drawing his attention to them.

After hurting five officers and law enforcement officers from across the region, Martin escaped and hid in the back of the building. The police found him about an hour later and killed him during an exchange of gunfire, police said. All wounded officers should live.

"He was probably waiting for us to have him there," said Police Lieutenant Rick Robertson. "It was just a very short shootout and it was over, so he was basically in the back and waiting for us, he fired at us and our officers fired."

Martin, 45, was no stranger to the police in Aurora, where he had been arrested six times over the years for what Ziman had described as "problems related to domestic battery and traffic" and for having violated a protection order.

Scott Hall, President and CEO of Mueller Water Products Inc., owner of Henry Pratt, said at a press conference Saturday that Martin had been fired for "committing various workplace violations." ", but without specifying its precision.

He stated that a background check of Martin's company when he joined Henry Pratt 15 years ago did not result in a felony conviction. of 1995 in Mississippi.

A vigil was scheduled for Sunday at Aurora, located about 65 km west of Chicago. It is the second largest city in Illinois, with approximately 200,000 inhabitants.

The police identified the murdered workers as the director of human resources, Clayton Parks, of Elgin; Factory Manager, Josh Pinkard, from Oswego; Russell Beyer of Yorkville, mold operator; Oswego Vicente Juarez stockman and forklift operator; and Trevor Wehner, the new trainee and student at Northern Illinois University who lived in DeKalb and grew up in Sheridan.

It was the first day of Wehner's work, said his uncle Jay Wehner at the Associated Press. Trevor Wehner, 21, was on the Dean's List at NIU Business School and was about to graduate in Human Resource Management in May.

"He has always been always happy, I have nothing bad to say for him … he was a wonderful person.You can not say anything other than good things about him", said Jay Wehner about his nephew.

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