'Responding to Aurora' discussion set for Thursday in Elgin

  • Five civilians were killed and five police officers were wounded in the Feb. 15 shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora.

      Five civilians were killed and five police officers were wounded in the Feb. 15 shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/2/2019 8:16 PM

An Elgin church is hosting a panel of law enforcement and elected officials who will discuss what can be done to prevent tragedies like February's workplace shooting in Aurora.

"Responding to Aurora: A Conversation with Illinois Leaders" will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church, 240 Standish St. The event is free.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

First Presbyterian Church is a social justice church, and its leadership researched the issue and selected the panelists, the Rev. Karen Schlack said. "As a church, we're interested in supporting the community and the police department, but we're also interested in trying to be involved, in trying to work with them so this won't happen again," she said.

The panel will feature: state Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison; Lt. Col. David Byrd, assistant deputy director for the Illinois State Police; Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain; Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon; Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman; Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley; and Jessica Trame, chief of the Firearms Services Bureau for the Illinois State Police. State Rep. Anna Moeller, an Elgin Democrat, said she will moderate the discussion.

Moeller said the talk will include efforts to address mental health issues from a law enforcement perspective, such as a collaborative crisis services unit established this year by Elgin police. "It's reframing how we approach these types of situations," Moeller said.

Willis is the chief sponsor of a bill that would mandate fingerprinting and background checks for Firearm Owner's Identification cardholders. The bill passed the Illinois House last week but was not brought to a vote in the state Senate before the legislative session ended Sunday. Supporters of the bill said it could prevent circumstances similar to those that led to the Henry Pratt Co. shooting Feb. 15 in Aurora, where a gunman who was being terminated from his job killed five civilians and wounded five police officers before he was killed by police.

Schlack said she was moved to call her congregation to action after the March 15 terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

"Six years ago, after Sandy Hook (Elementary School in Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman), we said, 'This will never happen again' ... and it's still happening," Schlack said.

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