Store clerks: Alleged Illinois gunman fine hours before shooting

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A gunman opened fire at co-workers and police officers at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois.

Before allegedly killing five of his co-workers, Gary Montez Martin went into his local Circle K convenience store for his almost daily purchase of a few cigars. He seemed fine, according to clerks at the store.

“He came in almost every day and bought two or three Black & Mild cigars,” said Ricardo Moreno, 24, a clerk at a Circle K just blocks from Martin’s apartment.

Moreno said Martin was an engaging, happy customer who made a difference in the life of a clerk at the store. The two would chat about life and work and Moreno would kid Martin about his smoking habit.

Hours after leaving the store Friday, Martin went to his place of work and fatally shot his co-workers and six police officers before he was killed by police who had arrived at a factory in Aurora, Illinois, where the shooting took place, officials said.

Martin, a 15-year veteran of the Henry Pratt Company, was being fired just before the shooting began, according to authorities. Chief Kristen Ziman said in a news conference Friday night that Martin used a Smith & Wesson handgun to shoot his five male co-workers. Police were investigating whether Martin had obtained the gun legally, Ziman said.

Martin allegedly began a gun battle with police officers who arrived within minutes after frantic calls came from within the factory, where he worked as a valve assembler. He then hid inside the cavernous 29,000 square foot factory as police teams searched for him for almost an hour. When they found him, he shot at them and they shot back, killing him, Ziman said.

Martin lived in a large apartment complex about five miles northeast of the factory. Police obtained a search warrant and searched his apartment Friday evening. “At this time, I’m told we didn’t find anything,” Ziman said.

Half a mile away from his complex was the Circle K store where Moreno worked. The man he interacted with almost daily was cheerful and upbeat.

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