Student, alumnus among those killed in Aurora shooting

By Northern Star Staff

Human resource management student Trevor Wehner and College of Business alumnus Clayton Parks were killed Friday afternoon in the shooting at Henry Pratt Co., 401 S. Highland Ave., Aurora, according to an email sent Saturday by President Lisa Freeman.

Police received a report of an active shooter at 1:24 p.m. at Henry Pratt Co. The gunman, 45-year-old Gary Martin, reportedly brought a gun to the workplace with the knowledge that he was being terminated. An oversight of the gunman’s criminal record, which included numerous arrests for violent crimes and a felony charge, allowed the him to maintain ownership of the gun used in the shooting, though his firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card had been revoked in 2014, according to the Associated Press.

21-year-old Wehner was from Sheridan and was expected to graduate in May with a degree in human resource management. He was on the Dean’s List for the School of Business, and Friday was his first day as an intern with Henry Pratt Co.

32-year-old Parks graduated in 2014 from the College of Business and worked for Henry Pratt Co. as a human resource manager. He joined the company in November and oversaw human resource operations in Aurora, Hammond, Indiana and Denver, according to an article from the Associated Press.

“Loss like this is devastating and senseless,” Freeman said in the official email. “I ask our university community to please keep the Wehner and Parks families, friends and communities in your hearts and offer them caring thoughts.”

Parks was married and had an infant son Axel, according to a Facebook post by his wife Abby.

“Every time I’ve closed my eyes over the last twelve hours, I’ve opened them hoping to wake from a terrible dream, but that’s not the case,” Abby posted. “I’m living my worst nightmare. My husband, my love, my best friend.”

The other victims of the shooting include Josh Pinkard, 37, of Oswego, Vicente Juárez, 54, of Oswego and Russell Beyer, 47, of Yorkville. They were Henry Pratt Co.’s plant manager, stockroom attendant and union chairman, respectively, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune.

Mueller Water Products released a statement on its website recognizing the incident at the Henry Pratt Co. facility.

“Mueller Water Products is shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy that occurred today at our Henry Pratt facility in Aurora, Illinois,” said the statement. “Our hearts are with the victims and their loved ones, the first responders, the Aurora community and the entire Mueller family during this extremely difficult time. Our entire focus is on the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, and we are committed to providing any and all support to them and their families.”

Students seeking support can contact Counseling and Consultation services 24 hours a day at (815) 753-1206. The Division of Student Affairs is also available to provide students with support. For faculty and staff, NIU offers support through the Employee Assistance Program.

Memorial information will be provided once available to the public.

The Northern Star will update as more information is known.