The man who killed five people in a warehouse in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday bought his gun legally—despite a felony conviction for aggravated assault that should have disqualified him—but later lost his gun license, police said Saturday. Authorities are investigating how he was able to keep his gun.
The gunman, identified as 45-year-old Aurora resident Gary Martin, died on Friday at the manufacturing plant where he had worked as a valve assembler for 15 years. Police said he opened fire during a meeting in which he was fired, killing three. He went on to kill the other two victims, also Henry Pratt Co. employees, in a different part of the warehouse. Aurora police Chief Kristen Ziman said Saturday she thought it was likely that Martin brought his gun to the meeting because he knew it was possible he would be fired.
Workers at a local Circle K told USA Today that Martin, who came in almost every day, seemed like a cheerful man to them, and even on the morning of the shooting he seemed normal. Neighbors also called him friendly.
But as is so often the case with mass shooters, Martin had a history of domestic violence. According to Ziman, local police had arrested Martin six times before, several of which were for domestic violence, and the latest of which was in 2017 for disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property. He also had been convicted of aggravated assault in Mississippi in 1995.
That Mississippi conviction, a felony, should have prevented him from being able to buy a gun. But according to police, the background check failed to raise any flags. In 2014, Martin applied for and was issued an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, and two months later he bought a Smith & Wesson handgun from a local dealer. That gun was the one used in Friday’s shooting.
He soon afterward applied for a concealed carry permit, police said, but during fingerprinting and the background check involved in that process, the Mississippi conviction surfaced, and his application was denied. Illinois State Police then revoked his firearm license. Police are investigating how he was able to keep his handgun after that.
In Friday’s shooting, Martin injured five police officers and one Henry Pratt employee, all of whom have recovered or are in stable condition. The five people killed in the shooting have been identified as Russell Beyer of Yorkville; Vicente Juarez of Oswego; Clayton Parks of Elgin; Josh Pinkard of Oswego; and Trevor Wehner of Dekalb. Beyer, Juarez, Parks, and Pinkard were all employees of the plant. Wehner was a student at Northern Illinois University and, according to the Chicago Tribune, on his first day of an internship at the plant..
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