At least five dead, six officers injured as gunman opens fire at Aurora, Ill., plant

Doug Stanglin and Aamer Madhani

AURORA, Ill. — Five people were killed and six police officers injured after a gunman opened fire at a manufacturing plant Friday in the southwest Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois, police reported.

Officers found themselves immediately in an afternoon gun battle after arriving at the Henry Pratt Company plant only four minutes after terrified workers called police for help, said Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman.

The gunman, identified as 45-year-old Gary Martin, was shot and killed as well. Ziman said he is believed to be an employee of the company. She said detectives have not determined a motive yet.

“Our hearts go out to the victims in this horrific tragedy,” said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. “We will heal, we will come together as one community and stand by those in pain from this loss. We will stand by those officers who were shot.”

At least one relative of the shooter was at police headquarters Friday night, waiting to be interviewed by detectives.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker commended the “amazing” work of law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, saying that they “rushed toward danger, and in doing that … saved countless lives. May God bless the brave law enforcement officers who continue to run toward danger,”

John Probst, a worker at the company, told ABC7 that the shooter, armed with a pistol, was a co-worker. He said there were about 30 workers in the open storage room when the gunman opened fire shortly after 1 p.m. CT.

"He was shooting everybody . . . As soon as i heard the shot, we left. As soon as I heard it, I took off," Probst said.

He said one of the victims "came running down and was bleeding pretty bad."

 President Donald Trump, who was briefed on the incident and was monitoring the situation, said law enforcement officers did a “great job.” Trump sent a tweet as news of the casualties was unfolding, sending his “Heartfelt condolences to all of the victims and their families,” adding “America is with you!”

The Henry Pratt Company, about 40 miles west of Chicago, is one of North America’s largest manufacturers of valves for the potable water, wastewater, power generation and industrial markets. It’s a subsidiary of Mueller Water Products, Inc., a NYSE publicly traded company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company was founded in 1901.

During World War I, the Henry Pratt Company manufactured propellers for Liberty Ships and in the 1920s, the company made products for electric power plants and gas plants.

The company has a tradition of industry firsts. When welding came into use in the mid 1920s, Pratt was instrumental in the design and production of the first welded smoke stack, which was installed at Commonwealth Edison’s Fisk Street Generating Station.

Contributing: John Fritze in Washington; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: At least five dead, six officers injured as gunman opens fire at Aurora, Ill., plant