The gunman at the centre of a mass shooting in Aurora, Illinois, was about to lose his job before he opened fire on his colleagues.
Five people were killed and five police officers were injured in the incident on Friday at the Henry Pratt Company industrial warehouse, while the shooter Gary Martin was also killed by law enforcement.
Late on Friday, Aurora police chief Kristen Ziman told media that Martin, 45, was going to be dismissed from his job on the day of the attack.
“The information that we have indicates he was being terminated today,” she said, per Reuters, adding that the reason for his dismissal was not known to police.
“I hate that we have to use the term ‘classic workplace shooting.’ That pains me to do so. At this time, I don’t know. We can only surmise with a gentleman who’s being terminated.”
Ziman added that the five people killed were employees of the Henry Pratt Company. When confronted by police, Martin opened fire on them, injuring five officers. Police returned fire and killed the aggressor.
All five injured police officers were transported to local hospitals. They have non-life threatening injuries.
Police received an active-shooter alert Friday afternoon around 1:24 p.m. local time, Ziman said. Police arrived at the scene within four minutes. Aurora is about 50 miles west of Chicago.
US President Donald Trump praised law enforcement. “Great job by law enforcement in Aurora, Illinois. Heartfelt condolences to all of the victims and their families. America is with you!” he tweeted.
One witness who works at the plant, John Probst, told ABC 7 Chicago that Martin was one of his colleagues, and that he saw him “running down the aisle” before he and his peers fled.
“As soon as we heard shots, we took off out the front door,” he said. He added that he saw one person bleeding badly, and could still hear gunshots after he left the building.
Henry Pratt Company is a manufacturer of valves and other industrial equipment. It is owned by Mueller Water Products. In a statement on its website, Mueller said:
“Mueller Water Products is shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy that occurred today at our Henry Pratt facility in Aurora, Illinois. Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones, the first responders, the Aurora community and the entire Mueller family during this extremely difficult time.
“Our entire focus is on the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, and we are committed to providing any and all support to them and their families. We continue to work closely with law enforcement, with whom we share our deepest gratitude for their support. We will provide updates as we learn more.”
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