One of the people injured in a deadly warehouse shooting last month sued Illinois State Police on Friday, saying authorities "bungled" their responsibility to ensure the shooter turn in the gun he used in the attack at Henry Pratt Co.
Speaking at a press conference Friday, a lawyer David Rapoport said the shooting was likely preventable, and detailed chilling words from the gunman to his client, Timothy Williams — "You're not dead yet?"
Williams is seeking $2 million, claiming pain, suffering, disability and lost earnings. According to the lawsuit, he was shot three times after colleague Gary Martin opened fire Feb. 15, killing five other co-workers. Williams still has two bullets lodged in his back.
Martin's state gun license permit was revoked in 2014, but authorities say he never gave up the handgun he used in the shooting. The Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois State Police declined comment, saying they don't discuss pending litigation.
"Mr. Martin would have never possessed the firearm he used at the Henry Pratt Company mass shooting had the Illinois State Police properly followed and implemented their internal protocols intended to keep firearms out of the hands of citizens who meet certain criteria deemed by the legislature in the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act to be unfit for ownership of a firearm," the lawsuit states.
Rapoport gave a disturbing account Friday of Williams' interaction with Martin, who police said pulled out the gun and began shooting right after hearing he was being fired from his job of 15 years at the industrial valve manufacturer for various workplace violations. Rapoport said Williams was acting as Martin's union steward during the disciplinary meeting. Recounting his understanding of his client's story, he said Martin became irate and said something to the effect of "We're finished here" before opening fire.
Martin killed three people in the room with him and two others just outside, police said. Among the dead was a college student starting a human resources internship at the plant that day. Williams was shot in the arm, but was able to run outside of the room and alert others to the danger, Rapoport said.
"He was just screaming with his bloody arm, 'Get out, Gary is shooting, Get out, Gary is shooting,'" Rapoport said.
Williams hadn't yet made it out of the building when he saw Martin in the plant on some kind of cart, Rapoport said. He said his client and Martin locked eyes, and Martin got off the cart and approached Williams.
According to Rapoport, Martin said to Williams, "You're not dead yet?" before shooting him twice more, in the upper back near each of his shoulders.
"Our client went down and was praying, just praying and understanding that he was perhaps about to be killed," Rapoport said.
Rapoport said his client believes that's when police arrived, because he saw the gunman firing over him, he believes towards officers. Rapoport said his client was able to gather "superhuman" strength and make it outside the building.
After wounding five officers, Martin hid in the back of the building, where officers found him about an hour later and killed him during an exchange of gunfire, police said. Rapoport said he's bringing the lawsuit in the hopes it will prevent future violence committed by people who aren't legally allowed to possess guns.
"I can tell you [Williams'] conduct was remarkable on the day it happened," Rapoport said. "I think he saved many lives. I think he cares deeply about others in the future not going through what happened in that plant."
State police have said that when Martin applied for a Firearm Owner's Identification card in 2014, their criminal background check did not reveal a 1995 conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi, CBS Chicago reported.
The conviction wasn't discovered until five days later, in a new background check after Martin applied for a concealed carry license and submitted his fingerprints to speed up the application.
Illinois State Police revealed in the weeks after the shooting that Martin's Mississippi arrest did not show up in databases because his Mississippi state identification number did not appear in the system until Thursday, more than two decades after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault involving a former girlfriend.
Rapoport said that he's seen a 2014 letter issued to Martin that his concealed carry permit application was denied because his Firearm Owners Identification Card was being revoked. The letter said he would be receiving formal notification about the revocation, but said there's no evidence that notice was ever sent. State police said an "exhaustive search" failed to find Martin's returned Firearm Owners Identification Card or a document detailing how to relinquish the gun.
Rapoport also said there's no evidence the Illinois State Police notified local law enforcement in Aurora that Martin's identification had been revoked.
"It was forseeable to the Illinois State Police that somebody with a violent history who is violating federal and state law by having a firearm needs to have that firearm taken away before they can kill," Rapoport said. "That's what this is all about."
State police officials have released records showing weaknesses in state law and federal databases that are used to screen firearm purchases. Among the records, state police said more than 75 percent of the people who received gun license revocations last year in Illinois ignored the notices.
Since the shooting, state police officials announced several reforms designed to make it harder for people to keep guns after losing their right to own a firearm.