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Local

Henry Pratt gunman warned that he was going to kill co-workers prior to shooting

Crosses outside Henry Pratt Company in Aurora memorialize five employees were shot and killed by a coworker on Feb. 15.
Crosses outside Henry Pratt Company in Aurora memorialize five employees were shot and killed by a coworker on Feb. 15.

AURORA – Hours before a gunman shot and killed five of his co-workers at Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora and wounded five Aurora police officers, he threatened to kill everyone in the plant and injure police if he was fired.

According to report released Monday by Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon on the Feb. 15 shooting, the gunman had spoke to a few employees that morning and was concerned that he might be fired for a safety violation. He allegedly told one employee, “If I get fired, I’m going to kill every mother f***** in here. I am going to blow police up.”

The employee did not report the statement to anyone because he believed the offender was always making “off the wall” statements and therefore was not concerned, according to the report. The employee also was aware that the shooter carried a gun in his vehicle, but had never seen him with a gun inside the building and wasn’t aware the gunman had a gun with him Feb. 15, according to the report.

“It is believed the offender brought the gun and ammunition into the plant that morning when he arrived for work as there is no video evidence of him returning to his car prior to the shooting,” McMahon states in his report.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman reacted with frustration and disappointment in hearing that the gunman made those comments to a fellow employee and that the employee chose not to tell police.

“If it turns out to be nothing, so be it,” Ziman said. “One warning could have helped and I hope that sends the message.”

Ziman made those comments following Monday’s ceremony at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora honoring the injured police officers and others providing help that day.

Among those killed in the shooting was Sheridan native Trevor Wehner, 21. The DeKalb resident was a student at Northern Illinois University and a human resources intern at Henry Pratt.

Wehner had just begun working that day in the human resources department at Mueller Water Products, the parent company of Henry Pratt Co., when he was included in a meeting on Feb. 15 in which the gunman was being terminated.

Also killed were Clayton Parks, 32, of Elgin, a 2014 NIU graduate who was the human resources manager; Russell Beyer, 47, of Yorkville, a mold operator and union chairman; Vicente Juarez, 54, of Oswego, a stock room attendant and forklift operator; and Josh Pinkard, 37, of Oswego, the plant manager.

Timothy Williams, who was shot three times – once in his right arm and twice in his back – is suing the Illinois State Police for not following proper procedures to keep the handgun used in the shooting. The gunman, 45, of Aurora, died in a shootout with police.

The report concluded that the officers involved in the incident were justified in firing at the shooter.

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