One of the victims of a gunman's rampage that left five people dead last week in Illinois texted love to his wife as he lay dying.
Terra Pinkard said she received the text message Friday from her husband, Josh, who worked at a manufacturing plant in the Chicago suburb of Aurora.
"I received a text at 1:24 from my precious husband that said I love you, I’ve been shot at work," she wrote Sunday on Facebook. "It took me several times reading it for it to hit me that it was for real."
Josh Pinkard, 37, was the plant manager at Henry Pratt Co., where police said Gary Martin killed five co-workers and wounded six other people, including five police officers. Martin was fatally shot at the scene.
Terra Pinkard said she tried to call, text and FaceTime her husband several times but received no response. She called the plant, and the woman who answered said she was barricaded in a room and police were swarming the area.
Pinkard packed up their three children and drove to the plant but encountered closed roads. She drove to two hospitals, waiting at the second one for news. Pastors, co-workers and neighbors sat with her, she said.
"I finally got in touch with the Aurora (police) who told me of a staging area for victims families," she wrote. "I don’t know how my body drove itself there but it did. The police told us there were fatalities. He read my husband’s name."
She told her children their dad "did not make it and is in heaven with Jesus. I’ve never had to do something that hard."
She said she was asked by the news media to talk about him, but it was too hard.
"I want to shout from the rooftops about how amazing Josh was!" she wrote. "He was brilliant! The smartest person I’ve ever met! My best friend!"
She thanked friends and family for their love, prayers and kindness.
"Please pray for my children," she said. "They are struggling because they miss a daddy who loved them so much. Please pray that somehow I can put that one foot in front of the other."
Martin, a 15-year employee at the plant, had been called into a meeting and was being fired when he began shooting, authorities said. Josh Pinkard was among three people at the meeting who were killed.
Martin had his gun permit revoked in 2014 after a background check turned up a felony conviction in Mississippi, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said. He was told to turn over his weapon but never did, she said.
About 1,700 people gathered in snow and freezing drizzle Sunday for a prayer vigil, bowing their heads and paying homage to the victims and first responders.
“Just to simply offer condolences is not enough," Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin told the crowd. "It doesn’t measure the amount of pain that we feel for the loss that we’ve experienced in this community.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aurora shooting victim Josh Pinkard texted love to his wife as he lay dying