MSU graduate identified as a victim in Aurora shooting

MSU alumnus Josh Pinkard was a victim of the Aurora, Illinois workplace shooting. Pinkard leaves behind his wife and three children. 

One victim in the Aurora, Illinois, shooting Friday that killed five workers of a manufacturing plant was identified as Mississippi State University graduate and avid fan, Josh Pinkard.

Pinkard, 37, was a plant manager at Henry Pratt and lived in Oswego, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. Pinkard is originally from Holly Pond, Alabama.

On Friday, Pinkard had sent a text to his wife Terra Pinkard saying, “I love you, I’ve been shot at work,” Terra wrote in a Facebook post

“It took me several times reading it for it to hit me that it was for real,” Terra wrote. “I called his phone several times, text, FaceTime—nothing. I called his plant and a lady answered, and said she was barricaded in her room and police were everywhere. Of course my heart dropped.”

Terra said she proceeded to get her children and drive to the plant, where she found police blocking the roads. Then, she went to the nearest hospitals, only to find her husband was not there. Waiting on some news of her husband, Terra was surrounded by her pastor, neighbors, chaplains and coworkers who held her hand. 

After contacting the Aurora Police Department, Terra found out about an area for victims' families.

“I don’t know how my body drove itself there, but it did,” Terra wrote. “The police told us there were fatalities. He read my husband’s name. I immediately left and went to get my kids. With my pastor's help, since family was still on planes to get to us, I told my children their dad did not make it and is in heaven with Jesus. I’ve never had to do something that hard.”

Terra described Pinkard as her best friend and an incredibly smart person. She praised his thoughtfulness to send her a text during the shooting.

“The man who was dying and found the clarity of mind for just a second to send me one last text to let me know he would always love me,” Terra wrote. “This unbelievable person was robbed from us.” 

Pinkard obtained his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from MSU in 2005, and was also a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College. Pinkard went on to complete a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas last year.

The Tribune reported Pinkard’s family described him as a God-loving, family-loving and MSU-loving man.

MSU released a statement Monday morning describing its sorrow for the loss of one of its graduates.

“The MSU family mourns the loss of our beloved alum, who also was a beloved husband and father,” said Sid Salter, MSU chief communications officer.

“Mississippi State University extends our sympathy and prayers for his family and friends and for the community that has suffered this terrible tragedy."

The other victims in Friday’s shooting were 32-year-old Clayton Parks, 21-year-old Trevor Wehner, 47-year-old Russell Beyer and 54-year-old Vicente Juarez.

The Aurora shooting occurred after an employee opened fire following a meeting in which he was terminated from his job at Henry Pratt Co., according to authorities. The suspected gunman, Gary Martin, 45, was illegally possessing the gun he used to kill the victims and wound five police officers. Martin was killed by police after the shootout.

According to a Washington Post article, authorities recently revealed that in January 2014 Martin obtained an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, despite his felony record after a domestic abuse charge in 1994. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told reporters Martin would not necessarily have appeared on a criminal background check before he was issued the card.

Later, Martin bought a handgun and applied for a concealed carry permit, at which time officials discovered his felony conviction due to fingerprinting. His application was rejected and his FOID card revoked, but the Washington Post reported there is no indication authorities confiscated his gun. 

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