Thousands attend vigil for Aurora shooting victims

AURORA, Ill. (Reuters) - More than 2,000 people braved icy rain in sub-freezing temperatures in Illinois on Sunday for a vigil paying respects to five people killed and five police officers wounded by a factory worker who opened fire on Friday after losing his job.

Solemn mourners stood before five white crosses with the names of the dead that became a shrine to the victims bearing pictures and hand-written remembrances outside the factory where the shooting took place in Aurora, about 40 miles (64 km) west of Chicago.

"My heart is broken again for the family members of the victims," said Mary Kay Mace, mother of the late Ryanne Mace, who was killed 11 years ago in a mass shooting at Northern Illinois University.

"I'm living proof that you can survive it, however. It's a hard, difficult trek but it can be done," said Mace, 55, who drove three hours from Petersburg, Illinois, and wore a university pin to honor shooting victim Trevor Wehner, a 21-year-old intern from NIU who was on his first day on the job.

The other fatal victims were Josh Pinkard, the plant manager; Clayton Parks, the human resources manager; Russell Beyer, a mold operator and union chairman; and Vicente Juarez, a stock room attendant and fork lift operator.

A sixth employee and five police officers responding to the scene were wounded. The gunman himself was slain about 90 minutes later in a gunfight with police who stormed the building.

Friday's bloodshed marked the latest outbreak of gun violence in a nation where mass shootings have become almost commonplace, and came a day after the first anniversary of the massacre of 17 people by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Several local pastors spoke and the vigil drew people of many ages.

Barbara Fultz, a 72-year-old retired woman who has been living in Aurora for more than 50 years, said her church, Main Baptist Church in Aurora, had told members about the vigil and she has a cousin who works at the Henry Pratt Company factory, a maker of industrial valves.

"It's a tragedy all over," Fultz said. "We've never had anything like this here. It's so sad."

Michelle Lamos, a 40-year-old healthcare worker, stood with her 14-month-old daughter.

"We need to come together. This is awful," Lamos said.

The gunman was a violent felon who obtained a state permit to buy a firearm despite being legally barred from owning one, officials said.

(Reporting by Robert Chiarito; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Sandra Maler)

17 PHOTOS
FBI releases drawings serial killer Samuel Little made of his victims
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FBI releases drawings serial killer Samuel Little made of his victims

Atlanta, Georgia

Unmatched Confession: Black female between 23-25 years old killed in 1984. Victim possibly a college student.

Atlanta, Georgia

Unmatched Confession: Black female between 35-40 years old killed in 1981.

Atlanta, Georgia

Unmatched Confession: White female, age 26, killed in 1983 or 1984. Victim possibly from Griffith, Georgia.

Houston, Texas

Unmatched Confession: Black female between 25-28 years old killed between 1976 and 1979 or in 1993.

Prince George’s County, Maryland

Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: White female between 20-25 years old killed in 1972. Victim possibly from Massachusetts.

Granite City, Illinois

Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 26, killed between 1976 and 1979. Met victim in St. Louis, Missouri. Victim possibly called "Jo."

Las Vegas, Nevada

Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 40, killed in 1993.

Monroe, Louisiana

Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 24, killed between 1987 and the early 1990s.

Wichita Falls, Texas

Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1976 or 1977. Body disposed of somewhere outside of Wichita Falls (city unspecified).

West Memphis, Arkansas

Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: Black female between 28-29 years old killed in 1984. Victim picked up in Memphis, Tennessee.

Miami, Florida

Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 18, killed in 1971 or 1972. Victim possibly called "Mary Ann" or "Marianne."

Pascagoula, Mississippi

Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: Black female between 35-45 years old killed in 1977. Met the victim in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victim possibly from Pascagoula. Victim possibly worked at Ingalls Shipyard.

Phoenix, Arizona

Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1997. Victim possibly called "Ann."

Phoenix, Arizona

Unmatched Confession: Hispanic female in her 40s. Killed in 1988 or 1996. Victim possibly from Phoenix.

Los Angeles, California

Unmatched Confession: White female between 23-25 years old killed in 1996.

Covington, Kentucky

Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1984. Met victim in Columbus, Ohio. Body disposed of somewhere in Northern Kentucky (city unspecified).

These incidents are either linked to victims who have not yet been identified (Jane Does) or to murders described by Samuel Little that have not yet been definitively corroborated by law enforcement (unmatched confessions). The information depicted when selecting the pinpoints on the map (also available in text form below) is based on interviews with Samuel Little; they are his confessions and recollections, and dates are approximations.
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