Remembering Victims Of Aurora Mass Shooting

AURORA, IL — Friday, Feb. 15, started just like any other day for Clayton Parks, Vicente Juarez, Russell Beyer and Josh Pinkard, employees of Henry Pratt manufacturing. For intern Trevor Wehner, it was his first day at a new job. In an instant, their lives were cut short when their coworker Gary Martin opened fire during a meeting at the plant. Time stopped at that moment too for the families of these employees, who are now struggling to make sense of the undoubtedly senseless act that took their loved ones from them.

Each employee slain during the shooting had their story reach a tragic end on Friday. In the aftermath, their stories — of the families they raised, the sports they loved, the passions they pursued — will live on to ensure that they aren’t faceless victims of a senseless crime.

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Clayton Parks

“My husband, my love, my best friend, and the incredible father of our sweet son was taken from us yesterday in the shooting in Aurora, and I am devastated,” Abby Parks posted on Facebook of her husband’s death.

A husband and the father of a 10-month old son, Clayton Parks, of Elgin, was a 2014 Northern Illinois University graduate who worked as a human resources manager at Henry Pratt Manufacturing. His wife, Abby, is left to raise their son Axel after Parks’s untimely death. A GoFundMe has been set up in Clayton’s memory to help Abby with current and ongoing expenses as Axel grows up.

Trevor Wehner

Friday was Sheridan native Trevor Wehner’s first day on his new job working as a human resources intern at Henry Pratt manufacturing. He had previously worked at Tom and Jerry’s Restaurant in Dekalb. On Facebook, restaurant owners wrote, “We lost an amazing person, co-worker, and friend too soon.”

The 21-year-old Northern Illinois University student, remembered on social media as “a big brother to many” and someone who “always wore a smile,” was set to graduate this spring. Wehner is survived by his parents and his brother, Tom.

Trevor’s brother posted on Facebook, “I love you so much bro. I remember all the times we would fight but no matter what happened I still loved you. Rest easy big bro. I’m so proud of you. I’ll miss being that annoying little brother to you.”

Vicente Juarez

Vicente Juarez, of Oswego, worked as a forklift operator and stockroom attendant at Henry Pratt to support his wife and family. As head of the household, Vicente’s family depended on him “extensively,” according to a GoFundMe started in his memory. Funds from the campaign will go to help the Juarez family with ongoing expenses in the wake of his death.

Josh Pinkard

Josh Pinkard, of Oswego, texted his wife, Terra, “I love you; I’ve been shot at work,” seconds after the gunman had begun to fire, she wrote on Facebook. A father of three, Pinkard attended Mississippi State University before moving to Aurora to work at Henry Pratt Manufacturing. He had recently been promoted to plant manager at the company, according to a social media post from someone he befriended in college. Josh is remembered as who like bowling and game nights and “was fun to be around,” according to friends on social media.

A GoFundMe has been started to help Pinkard’s wife and children.

Russell Beyer

Yorkville native Russell Beyer, 46, worked as a mold operator at Henry Pratt, the same company his father, Ted, had worked for. “Russ had helped [the suspected shooter] keep his job on several occasions but was unable to do so again,” a GoFundMe page started in Beyer’s memory states.

“Russ will be remembered as a hard working and happy man known to always have a smile on his face.”

“The Henry Pratt shooter today in Aurora took away a great man that I’ve known since I was a little kid… A guy i always always had to give a hug to when I saw him at family get-togethers. a guy that when I saw him at Walmart I would jump on his back like a piggy back to scare him when he wasn’t looking,” a family member posted on social media about Beyer.

Do you have any memories you’d like to share of the shooting victims? If so, email lisa.farver@patch.com.

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Images via GoFundMe; a Patch promotional partner

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