Miss. State grad among mass shooting victims at IL plant

Miss. State grad among mass shooting victims at IL plant
Josh Pinkard (Source: Facebook/Mississippi State University)

AURORA, IL (WMC) - A Mid-South school is remembering the life of a former student killed in a mass shooting this week.

Josh Pinkard, a Mississippi State University graduate, was one of five people killed by a coworker at Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois.

Police said Gary Martin, 45, killed five of his coworkers and wounded five police officers.

Pinkard, 37, earned a degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University and a master's degree from University of Arkansas.

Pinkard was a big Mississippi State sports fan.

“He loved God, his family and Mississippi State sports,” a cousin wrote in a text to the Chicago Tribune that he said was written on behalf of Pinkard’s wife, Terra.

Pinkard was a father of three.

The other victims included Trevor Wehner, 21; Russ Beyer, 46; Clayton Parks, 32; and Vicente Juarez, 54.

His wife shared his final moments on Facebook, saying she got a text from him saying he’d been shot.

"I wanted everybody to know that that was Josh,” Terra said. “And in that moment when he was going through what he went through. He thought of me. And he wanted me to know that he loved me."

Mississippi State University released a statement saying, "The MSU family mourns the loss of our beloved alum. He was an enthusiastic fan of Bulldogs sports."

The MSU family mourns the loss of our beloved alum, Josh Pinkard, who was killed on Friday in the Aurora, Ill. shooting....

Posted by Mississippi State University on Monday, February 18, 2019

Police said the shooter, 45-year-old Gary Martin, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers.

In all, police said Martin killed five people and injured five police officers. Martin worked at the company for 15 years but was fired last week.

Martin was once convicted in Marshall County, Mississippi for aggravated assault.

Monday, the Aurora community came together to remember all five victims.

"We will not be remembered ultimately because of this tragedy, we will be remembered that this strength brought out in all of us,” said Chuck Adams, executive director of Indivisible Aurora.

Employees were invited back to the Henry Pratt facility on Monday for counseling services and fellowship.

The plant will remain closed for operations throughout the week.

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