Community comes together in grief after Aurora shooting
Friends and strangers wept and mourned together at a service Saturday for the five victims of the workplace shooting in Aurora.
"It's tragic," North Aurora resident Jim Velez said, while his wife, Ruth, added: "and senseless."
"It's 5 miles from our house ... it really hits home," Jim Velez said before heading into Highpoint Church's North Aurora chapel.
Clayton Parks of Elgin, Trevor Wehner of Sheridan, Russell Beyer of Yorkville, and Vicente Juarez and Josh Pinkard both of Oswego died Friday at the Henry Pratt manufacturing warehouse where they worked.
The shooter, identified as Gary Montez Martin, 45, of Aurora, was in the process of being fired from Henry Pratt, authorities said. He injured additional co-workers and five Aurora police officers who rushed into the building and exchanged gunfire.
"It's a tragic event that took place in our community and we just believe as Christians that what we can do is pray for healing and hope not just in our community but with the families," Marchel Rogers of Aurora said.
About 45 parishioners and local residents prayed and sang together at the service.
Despite the horrors of Friday, "at the same time we've seen the face of good, our first responders ran toward to the danger and peril," Highpoint Teaching Pastor Ed Stetzer said.
Betty Zalenski of North Aurora was familiar with Vicente Juarez, who leaves behind a large family.
"It's tough," she said. "It's heartbreaking."
Her husband, Bob, attended to support families of victims and police who were wounded. "I just think it's very courageous of the first responders," he said.
Before the service began, a man prayed aloud. "What a hard time it is in America and in this community," he said.