Man accused in mass shooting has family, prior conviction in Mississippi

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Both the accused gunman and one of his victims in a deadly workplace shooting in Illinois both have connections to Mississippi, authorities say.

The horrific workplace shooting in Aurora, Illinois left five people dead and five more injured.

Police say supervisors fired Gary Martin, a disgruntled former employee, on Friday.

Then, he started shooting, killing five people, including plant manager Josh Pinkard, a graduate of Mississippi State University.

School officials posted on Facebook said Monday they’re mourning his loss of Pinkard, “a beloved husband and father” and a big fan of Bulldog sports.

But the suspect also has an eerie connection even closer to the Mid-South.

Marshall County Sheriff Kenny Dickerson confirmed Martin was convicted on a domestic violence charge in 1995. In fact, authorities say that’s why he should’ve never been able to get a gun in 2014. But he did anyway.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said Martin applied for a concealed carry permit at an unknown location.

"During the fingerprinting and background process, it was discovered that he had a felony conviction for aggravated assault out of Mississippi. The date of that conviction was August 3, 1995,” Ziman said.

Authorities say they told Martin to return the gun, but he never did.

Since then, police in Illinois say they’ve arrested him multiple times on violent charges including domestic battery.

WREG went to Holly Springs and found where his relatives live to ask them what could’ve happened last week.

They didn’t want to talk with us but others in the small town did.

"His cousin said he was in trouble and stuff and he left and went to Aurora, was working, doing nice up there,” said Charlie Brown, who said Martin’s cousin hadn’t been in touch with him for a long time.

"He was surprised when he saw him on television because he thought he was doing really well, working at that factory for a long while.”

Johnnie Sumlar said she didn’t know he was from Holly Springs until her son saw it on Facebook.

Sumlar says she lives next door to Martin’s brother and two kids. She didn’t even know he had family in Illinois until this weekend.

Sumlar says she’s sorry for his loss and hopes it’s a lesson for authorities to better enforce weapons laws and prevent this from happening again.

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