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Illinois State Police negligent in Aurora gunman’s background checks: lawsuit

Law enforcement personnel gather near the scene of a shooting at the Henry Pratt company in an industrial park in Aurora, Ill., on Friday. | Bev Horne/Daily Herald via AP

A victim of last month’s factory shooting in Aurora is suing the Illinois State Police, saying their negligence allowed the gunman to buy and keep the weapon he used in his deadly rampage.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, Timothy Williams alleges the State Police conducted inadequate background checks and follow-up in the case of Gary Martin, who fatally shot five people and wounded six others, including Williams.

The State Police have acknowledged their initial background check on Martin when he applied for a Firearms Owner Identification Card did not uncover his criminal record.

Williams also claims the State Police allowed Martin to keep that handgun even when, a few days later, they eventually uncovered his criminal record and revoked his FOID card. And, they failed to inform the Aurora Police Department Martin was illegally in possession of a handgun, the lawsuit alleges.

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The suit, which seeks $2,000,000 in damages, was filed on behalf of Timothy Williams in the Courts of Claims of the State of Illinois.

Five employees and one intern were shot at Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, along with five police officers, in the Feb. 15 incident. The intern and four employees died; Williams, shot three times, survived.

The lawsuit alleges the gunman’s violent criminal history — including a violent felony conviction in Mississippi — was missed when Martin was issued his FOID card.

Around March 11, 2014, Martin used that card to purchase the handgun he used in the Pratt Company shooting, according to the lawsuit. Martin’s Mississippi conviction was discovered when he later applied for a Firearm Concealed Carry License, and that application was denied.

Though the State Police told Martin “a letter concerning your FOID revocation will be forthcoming,” the lawsuit alleges the letter was never sent. ISP’s procedure at the time was to notify local, county, and state law enforcement of the revocation, but records also show no copy of an electronic notification was sent to them about Martin’s FOID card revocation or the fact that he likely was in illegal possession of a handgun, according to the lawsuit.

“The claimant has experienced, and will experience, pain, suffering, disability, loss of a normal life, medical expenses, lost earnings and a loss of earning capacity,” the lawsuit says, “all because of the injuries suffered due to the ISP’s negligence.”

Illinois State Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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