Wife of Aurora massacre victim got text from husband: ‘I love you, I’ve been shot at work’ – Chicago Tribune
For Terra Pinkard, the nightmare began with an ominous text from her husband: âI love you, Iâve been shot at work.â
Pinkard would soon learn that her husband, Josh Pinkard, was among the five people killed when a co-worker who was being terminated from Henry Pratt Co. opened fire. Pinkard, 37, was the manager of the plant, where water valves are made.
In a Facebook message posted on Sunday, Terra Pinkard said it took her âseveral times reading it for it to hit me that it was real.â
Then, she wrote, she started calling his phone. She texted and FaceTimed him â and got no response. She reached someone at the plant who told her she was âbarricaded in her room with police everywhere.â
âOf course my heart dropped,â Pinkard wrote. Then she said she loaded the coupleâs three children into her car and drove toward the plant, but was stopped by an officer stationed at one of the closed streets, who could not provide any information.
So then she drove to two local hospitals but still could not get any news of her husband.
âWhile waiting (at the second hospital for) news, chaplains, my pastor, neighbors, his coworkers, came to sit with me and hold my hand,â she wrote. Hours later, an officer told her of a staging area for victimsâ families. âI donât know how my body drove itself there but it did,â Pinkard wrote.
There, another officer read a list of fatalities; her husbandâs name was on it.
âI immediately left and went to get my kids,â she wrote. Out-of-state family members were still on flights into the Chicago area â Josh Pinkard hailed from the small town of Holly Pond, Ala., though his immediate family now lives in Oswego â so Terra Pinkard said her pastor supported her as she broke the news to her children.
âI told my children that their dad did not make it and is in heaven with Jesus,â she wrote. âIâve never had to do something that hard.â
Josh Pinkard had worked for Mueller Water Products, Prattâs parent company, for at least a dozen years and started working in Aurora last April, according to his LinkedIn page. Loved ones say he was devoted to his wife and children and was a fan of sports teams from Mississippi State University, where he earned his bachelorâs degree.
âI want to shout from the rooftops about how amazing Josh was!â his wife wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. âHe was brilliant! The smartest person Iâve ever met! My best friend! The man I would have leaned on during devastation like this who would tell me itâs ok Terra, it is all going to be fine. 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. This unbelievable person was robbed from us.â
Authorities identified the other Henry Pratt Co. employees who were killed when gunman Gary Martin opened fire as Clayton Parks, 32, of Elgin; Trevor Wehner, 21, of Sheridan, Ill.; Russell Beyer, 47, of Yorkville; and Vicente Juarez, 54, of Oswego. Wehner was a Northern Illinois University student who had started an internship at Henry Pratt the day of the shooting.
Five Aurora officers were also injured when Martin opened fire on first responders. Four of those officers had been released from the hospital as of Sunday, officials said. Martin died at the scene in an exchange of gunfire with police, authorities said.