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Aurora shooting victim texted wife ‘I love you’ before succumbing to injuries

Hundreds of mourners pay their respects at a prayer vigil for the five people killed two days earlier in a mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Hundreds of mourners pay their respects at a prayer vigil for the five people killed two days earlier in a mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

After he was shot, Josh Pinkard, the plant manager of the water valve manufacturing facility in Aurora where a mass shooting took place Friday afternoon, texted his wife.

“I love you” was the message.

Pinkard’s wife, Terra, in a note posted to Facebook Sunday morning, described the horrible moments when she received the text and the frantic scramble that followed:

Josh Pinkard | Facebook photo

Josh Pinkard | Facebook photo

“I received a text at 1:24 from my precious husband that said I love you, I’ve been shot at work. It took me several times reading it for it to hit me that it was for real. I called his phone several times, text, FaceTime, nothing. I called his plant and a lady answered and said she was barricaded in her room and police were everywhere. Of course my heart dropped. I grabbed my children and drove to his plant where I met a cop blocking off the roads.”

A search of local hospitals followed before police told her of her husband’s death.

“I told my children their dad did not make it and is in heaven with Jesus. I’ve never had to do something that hard,” she wrote.

“Every thought in my mind and everything I see reminds me of a precious memory of my husband.”

“I want to shout from the rooftops about how amazing Josh was! He was brilliant! The smartest person I’ve ever met! My best friend! … 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.”

Reached Sunday by phone, Terra declined to comment. Her feelings, she said, were in her Facebook post.

Mourners pay their respects at a memorial for the five people killed two days earlier in a mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Her social media post came the same day the Aurora Police Department announced on Facebook that all but one of the five officers who were injured in the shooting had been released from area hospitals. The lone officer who remained hospitalized was in good condition.

Hundreds of mourners gathered in the rain Sunday afternoon for a prayer vigil outside Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, where five people — plus the gunman — were killed in the mass shooting two days earlier.

“Now is a time to heal, now is a time to forgive, now is a time to move together as a stronger community,” said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, in between prayers during the vigil. “Stronger because we recognize we are in this together.”

Five white crosses, provided by Greg Zanis of Crosses for Losses, were adorned by the attendees with photographs, mementos such as beanie babies, flowers  and candles. Religious leaders said prayers for each of the five victims, several of whom had family members attending the vigil.

“To the families of the victims, I say, I love you from the bottom of my heart and I open my heart and the city to you,” added Irvin, who shed tears during the vigil. “Anything we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

Rev. Dan Haas, executive director of A Future and A Hope Foundation, read the names of homicide victims in the city of Aurora since the start of 2019. As he read the name of Vicente Juarez, one of the five victims from Friday’s shooting, several members of his family could be heard sobbing loudly nearby.

“We will never know [the victims’] gifts and talents, their lives were snuffed out way too short in senseless killings,” Haas said. “It’s our commitment as a community to see that this list doesn’t grow, that this list doesn’t increase.”

Pinkard, 37, had moved to Oswego less than a year ago to manage the Henry Pratt Co.

On Friday, he was one of five employees of the company to be killed by a disgruntled co-worker in the mass shooting at the west suburban plant.

Pinkard was in a meeting where the company told Gary Martin he was being fired. Police said Martin began shooting with a .40-caliber handgun he had brought with him, killing Pinkard and three co-workers who were in the room. Martin fatally shot a fifth employee soon after, before wounding another and five police officers who responded to the scene.

Zach Howard, 37, is Pinkard’s cousin, but they grew up more like brothers in a rural part of Northern Alabama.

Howard said Pinkard was a Christian who lived the life of a Christian.

“He’s one of those guys that didn’t just talk the talk, he lived the life that exemplified what a believer would look like,” Howard said.

Pinkard was a fantastic dad to his daughter and two sons, all under 11, he said.

“He did everything, from making sure they got to soccer practice to riding bikes in the neighborhood and going to the park. He was always there. He was their rod. He’s a guy that enjoyed every day,” Howard said.

Pinkard moved to Oswego less than a year ago from Albertville, Ala., where he worked for Mueller Water Products.

He moved to Illinois because he got a promotion to manage the Henry Pratt facility, which is owned by Mueller Water Products.

“He’d been thinking about his family and the future with the company that he worked for, and it was definitely a time of growth and exciting possibilities,” Howard said.

Contributing: Ashlee Rezin

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