AURORA, Ill. — Aurora will mark a somber milestone this week.
Thursday will mark the six month anniversary of the mass shooting inside the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora. Six people, including the gunman, were killed.
Marco Gomez was one of the officers to run toward the gunfire that day. He arrived just four minutes from the first 911 call.
“As police officers, our main goal was we have to get in that building,” he said. “As we were walking through the silence it was kind of eerie. We didn’t hear any gunshots. We didn’t hear anyone screaming. … And then you hear the gunshots. And then you start looking around. Where they were coming from?”
Gomez was one of five officers injured in the 90-minute standoff.
“I did not see him but I saw where the shots were coming from,” he said. “I saw the glass on the door shattering. I could see the rounds … on the ground next to me so I knew where they were coming from.”
In the six months since the shooting, police chief Kristen Ziman has looked over the department. Recently, she was given photos snapped by a sergeant as decisions were made.
“It brings back the emotion when I look at it,” she said. “I remember feeling the emotion but when I look back it again it all just kind of comes right back, the feeling of being there.”
Five victims were killed in that February shooting. The national headlines since moved to other locations like Virginia Beach, Gilroy, California, El Paso, and Dayton.
“It’s the thing that happens that you don’t think is going to happen in your jurisdiction, under your watch,” Ziman said. “Despite the preparation, it’s still unbelievable to me that our name is on that list.”
What is to be believed, according to Ziman and Gomez, is the transformation the department and the city have made.
“It’s really amazing how we have become closer as a police department,” Gomez said. “How closer I am with my family. How close the community is with the police and how close the community is with each other. And I think it’s a credit to the community. When something bad happens, you’re going to either fall or rise up. And they’ve risen up. It’s just better.”