AURORA – Calling Friday " the worst day our company has ever had,” Mueller Water Products CEO and president Scott Hall said in a news conference that a background check the company conducted on employee Gary Montez Martin when he was hired at the company's Henry Pratt facility 15 years ago “did not surface his prior felony convictions in Mississippi.”
“We are hurting right now," he said. "The families of Russ, Clay, Josh, Vicente and Trevor are also grieving right now. And we still have one colleague in the hospital. I understand he will be going home hopefully in the next few hours. So that will be good news. And we will be thinking about him and his family along with the families of the victims.”
Martin, 45, of the 1900 block of Selmarten Road, Aurora, was killed by Aurora police following a shootout. Martin fired upon the officers as they arrived on the scene.
Hall said Martin was being terminated on Friday for a “culmination of various workplace rule violations.” He added he couldn’t provide details of those violations, and didn’t know if Martin realized he was going to be fired on Friday. Three of the victims were killed in the room where the termination hearing took place.
Officials said they had "no indication" that the man who shot and killed five employees at Henry Pratt Co. on Friday after being fired from the company would become violent.
But a criminal history of Martin indicated an array of disputes with authority including disorderly conduct charges, domestic abuse issues and other violations. Martin was turned down for a concealed carry permit and his Illinois FOID card was revoked in 2014 after it was discovered he had a 1995 felony conviction for aggravated assault out of Mississippi.
About nine people were in the building at the time of the shooting, he said. Although security cameras are on the outside of the building where the shooting took place, they are not located on the inside of the building, he said.
The company is offering counseling and other employee assistance programs at all of its locations, including the one in Aurora.
“In the days and weeks ahead, we will be reviewing every aspect of this tragedy and the steps we need to ensure that this horrible incident is never repeated,” Hall said. “And we’re assessing if there was anything we could have done or could do in the future.”
He thanked the Aurora police officers who were shot for the “tremendous bravery” they showed.
“I would also like to wish them a speedy recovery from their injuries and wounds,” Hall said.
The five people killed in Friday's shooting will be remembered at vigils that will be held over the next few days.
The Aurora Prayer Coalition, area churches and Greg Zanis' Crosses for Losses - with support from the city of Aurora – will hold a prayer vigil at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Henry Pratt Co., 401 S. Highland Ave.
An "Aurora Strong" vigil will be held at at 5 p.m. Sunday outside the Henry Pratt Co., followed by a salute to the Aurora Police Department at the Aurora Police Station, 1200 E. Indian Trail Road.
In addition, Indivisible Aurora will hold a vigil at 1 to 2 p.m. Monday at Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora. The group, which is calling for gun reform, also set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the funeral expenses for the victims.
The city of Aurora has launched the Aurora Strong Community Fund to help support the families of those who lost their lives.