Community continues to mourn days after 5 killed in shooting

AURORA, Ill. — Services were announced Monday for one of the victims of the fatal shooting in suburban Aurora last Friday. Also Monday, the business where five people were shot to death opened its doors to employees.

Although employees are welcome to return, they will not work and there will be no production. Henry Pratt Company said Monday will be an opportunity for everyone to come together after Friday's mass shooting. An employee meeting will also be held.

A small group of employees returned to work to discuss resources that will be made available.

Police said gunman Gary Martin, 45, likely brought his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun to work Friday because he knew he was being fired from his job at Henry Pratt Company after 15 years. Martin, who was convicted in 1995 of aggravated assault, was not licensed to own or carry a gun. Martin was killed in a shootout with officers, ending his deadly rampage.

The deceased victims were identified Saturday as:

  • Clayton Parks, of Elgin, Ill., a human resources manager who began working at Henry Pratt in November;
  • Trevor Wehner, 21, of DeKalb, Ill., a human resources intern and student at Northern Illinois University;
  • Russell Beyer, of Yorkville, Ill., a union chairman who worked at Henry Pratt for more than 20 years;
  • Vicente Juarez, of Oswego, Ill., a stock room attendant and fork lift operator who had been with the company since 2006;
  • and Josh Pinkard, of Oswego, Ill., a plant manager from Alabama who moved to Aurora last year.

A sixth employee and five Aurora police officers — all men — were shot and expected to survive.

Aurora officials created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for victims' families. On Saturday, vigils were held outside the shooting site. Additional services were scheduled for Sunday.

The Beacon-News reported that funeral services will be held Wednesday for Wehner. A visitation is scheduled for 2 to 7 p.m. with a funeral service at 7 p.m. at the Gabel-Dunn Funeral Home Ltd. in Sheridan, Ill. Services have not been announced for the other victims.

Greg Zanis made wooden crosses like he has for hundreds of other victims of mass shootings. Those shootings include Columbine and Aurora, Colorado and Las Vegas.

"We're here in my own town. My heart is broken," Zanis said. "Aurora is my home. This is not supposed to happen in the country, but not in my home."

The plant is run by Mueller Water products. On Monday, the company made some announcements for affected workers.

"We will not be returning to full production this week," company spokesperson Yolanda Kokayi said. "We tentatively plan to return to a normal schedule next Monday, and as those details are finalized, we will be communicating them directly with employees."

Mueller announced it is committing to cover the cost of the funerals, medical expenses of the victims and additional assistance to their families. It's also planning an employee support fund in the coming days.

More than 1,500 people braved snow and freezing drizzle to attend a prayer vigil Sunday, two days after they were five people fatally shot by a longtime employee who was fired moments earlier.

The Rev. Dan Haas told those who gathered near five white crosses erected for the shooting victims outside Henry Pratt Co. that Friday's "senseless killings" left their families brokenhearted in the city.

"All of these were relatively young people — many of them were very young people. We will never know their gifts and talents. Their lives were snuffed out way too short," he said of the victims, who included a 21-year-old university student on his first day as an intern.

Haas called on God to bring comfort to the families and Aurora. He then read the names and ages of the five shooting victims, prompting waves of sobs and cries from relatives attending the vigil.

The city of Aurora tweeted that about 1,700 people attended the vigil in a snowy lot outside the industrial valve manufacturer where several ministers and a rabbi called for healing.

Following the prayer vigil, a group walked four-miles to the Aurora Police Department to place crosses to honor those police officers who attempted to stop Martin. The police department says its been flooded with cards, well wishes and food donations from all around.

Another vigil was held at 1 p.m. Monday at the Water Street Mall. A moment of silence was held at 1:24 p.m., the time the first round of shots were fired at Henry Pratt Co.

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