For Terra Pinkard, the nightmare began with a disturbing text from her husband: "I love you, I was shot at work."
Pinkard will soon learn that her husband, Josh Pinkard, is one of five people killed when a colleague fired by Henry Pratt Co. opens fire. Pinkard, 37, was the director of the factory where the water valves are made.
Terra Pinkard said in a message posted Sunday on Facebook that it had taken him "several times to read it before telling me that it was real".
Then, she wrote, she started calling her phone. She texted him and FaceTimed – and got no answer. She reached someone at the factory who told her that she was "barricaded in her room with the police everywhere".
"Of course, my heart has dropped," wrote Pinkard. She then said that she had loaded the three children of the couple in her car and that she had gone to the factory, but had been intercepted by an officer stationed in one of the closed streets, which did not could provide no information.
She then drove to two local hospitals, but she still has not heard from her husband.
"While waiting (at the second hospital to receive news), the chaplains, my pastor, my neighbors, his co-workers came to sit with me and hold my hand," she wrote. A few hours later, a police officer told him about a staging area for the families of the victims. "I do not know how my body drove there, but it did," Pinkard writes.
There another officer read a list of victims; her husband's name was on it.
"I immediately left and went to pick up my children," she wrote. Family members from outside the state were still on board flights in the Chicago area – Josh Pinkard was from the small town of Holly Pond, Alabama. Although her immediate family now lives in Oswego – Terra Pinkard said her pastor was supporting her as she was separating the news to her children.
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"I told my children that their father had not survived and that he was in heaven with Jesus," she wrote. "I've never had to do anything so hard."
Josh Pinkard worked for Mueller Water Products, Pratt's parent company, for at least a dozen years and started working at Aurora last April, according to his LinkedIn page. His relatives say he was devoted to his wife and children and that he was a fan of sports teams at Mississippi State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree.
"I want to shout on the roofs how incredible Josh was!", Wrote his wife in a Facebook post on Sunday. "He was brilliant! The most intelligent person I have ever met! My best friend! The man on whom I would have supported during the disaster, would tell me that everything is fine Terra, everything will be fine. The man who was dying and who had regained clarity of mind just a second, will send me a final text to let me know that he would still love me . This incredible person was stolen. "
Authorities have identified other employees of Henry Pratt Co. who were killed when gunman Gary Martin fired on Clayton Parks, 32, of Elgin; Trevor Wehner, 21, Sheridan, Ill .; Russell Beyer, 47, Yorkville; and Vicente Juarez, 54, from Oswego. Wehner was a student at Northern Illinois University who started an internship at Henry Pratt on the day of the shooting.
Five Aurora officers were also injured when Martin opened fire on the first responders. Four of these officers were released from the hospital Sunday, officials said. Martin died on the scene in an exchange of gunfire with the police, authorities said.