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Local News

Victim in Aurora mass shooting sent a final text to his wife

One of the victims in the mass shooting at the Henry Pratt warehouse in Aurora texted his wife moments after the shooting Friday afternoon.

In a social media post, Terra Pinkard of Oswego, recounted how her husband Josh managed to send her a final message.

"The man who was dying...found the clarity of mind for just a second to send me one last text to let me know he would always love me," Terra Pinkard wrote. "This unbelievable person was robbed from us."

Josh and Terra Pinkcard had moved their family to Oswego from Alabama last spring. According to his LInkedIn page, Pinkard was a 13 year employee of Mueller Water Products, parent company of Henry Pratt. He began working at the Aurora plant last April.

Terra Pinkard said she has lost the love of her life in a social media post.

Terra Pinkard detailed the events of Friday afternoon as they unfolded for her and their three children, writing, "With my pastor's help...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."

Pinkard continued, "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 I would have leaned on during devastation like this who would tell me, 'It’s ok Terra, it is all going to be fine.'

Pinkard added, "Please remember us in the coming days, months, and years. We are scared and are trying to catch our breath and just putting one foot in front of the other."

Pinkard's uncle, Dr. David Chambers, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fairview, Ala., recalled his nephew Monday as a bright young man, with a strong Christian faith who was looked up to by his peers and family members as he grew up.

"Josh was a smart kid and also academically smart. He was tops in his class and went on to earn an engineering degree at Mississippi State, " he said.

Chambers said Pinkard and his family were enthusiastic as they talked about their new home and neighbors in Oswego when they visited Alabama over the Christmas holidays.

"They told us they had found a church, their neighbors were great and they were enjoying being there," he said.

Chambers said he believes Pinkard would want to be remembered as a "Godly, loving young man who loved his family and was a loving dad. His kids just thought the sun rose and set on him. His kids meant everything to him."

Chambers said he believes Pinkard will also be remembered as a God-fearing Christian.

"He loved the Lord and we know right now he is in heaven. We have no doubt about that," he said.

Chambers also extended condolences to the families of the other shooting victims and to the family of the shooter.

"Our hearts go out to the other victims' families a well. We know they are experiencing very similar emotions and in that we are including the family of the shooter. We think what he did was totally evil. We aren't calling him evil, but what he did was evil," Chambers said.

Here is a closer at the other victims in Friday's shooting:

Trevor Wehner

Wehner, 21, of Sheridan, was a student at Northern Illinois University and was working his first day Friday as an intern in Henry Pratt's human resources department. He expected to graduate this spring from NIU with a degree in human resource management.

In a social media post, a neighbor of Wehner's said his death has rocked the "our little town of Sheridan to its very core."

The neighbor described Wehner as a "a big brother to many, many boys in our tight knit community, including my boys and was a great role model. He loved his family...and life, always wore a smile and his legacy will live on forever."

A visitation for Wehner will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Gabel-Dunn Funeral Home Ltd., 333 W. Church Street in Sheridan. A funeral service will follow the visitation at 7 p.m., also at the funeral home. Pastor Eric Hayes of the Christian Community Church in Aurora will officiate. Following the services, visitors are invited to Sheridan Fire Department for a further celebration of Wehner's life.

Russell Beyer

Beyer, 47, of Yorkville, was a mold operator and union chairman at Pratt. He had been employed at the plant for 20 years. Beyer leaves behind his two children, his parents, a brother, a sister and other family members.

A family friend posted on social media, "The Henry Pratt shooter today in Aurora took away a great man that I've known since I was a little kid. A guy who was funny and kind and goofy. 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."

Friends of the Beyer family have established a GoFundMe page to help support his two children and to pay for burial expenses.

Organizers of the GoFundMe page described Beyer as "very vocal and proud union man who regularly represented his fellow union workers." They noted that Beyer had worked to help the shooter keep his job on several occasions over the years.

Friends posted their condolences to the Beyer family and their own remembrances of Beyer on the GoFundMe page. One wrote: "Russell was a classmate of mine from around 5th grade on. Like my other classmates, only positive memories come to mind of Russ. ...The Yorkville Class of 1990 expresses our deepest sorrow for your loss." Another wrote, "I was a high school classmate of his. I remember Russ as being very kind with a smile for everyone.

Vicente Juarez

Juarez, 54, of Oswego lived with his wife, Leticia Juarez, sons Adrian Juarez and Christian Juarez, daughter Diana Juarez, and eight grandchildren. He had been a forklift operator at the plant for the past 15 years.

Juarez's family and friends have asked for privacy in the wake of Vicente death "as we grasp the reality of (Friday's horrendous acts."

Those looking to support the family in this time, can do so through a GoFundMe page set up by a family member, "Juarez Family Assistance."

Ariana Castro, a friend of the family, extended thanks Sunday to those who have donated to the page. "Words cannot describe the love and appreciation we feel for this community. The support has been tremendous. Thank you!" Castro wrote.

Clayton Parks

Parks, 32, of Elgin, joined Pratt in November as a human resource manager for the firm's plants in Aurora, Hammond, Ind., and Denver, Colo. The 2014 Northern Illinois University graduate was husband to Abby Parks, and an infant son.

In a social media post Saturday, Abby Parks said she feels like she is hoping to "wake from a terrible dream, but that’s not the case. I’m living my worst nightmare. 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."

Since Friday, Parks said she has been surrounded by friends and family and is appreciative of all of the prayers and support they are receiving. She added, "Beneath all the fog and the shock, and the crushing pain, I believe the same God that brought us together and gave us our precious son will somehow carry us through. I’ll love you always and miss you forever, Clay."

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