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Local News

Widow of Oswego man, Henry Pratt shooting victim sues city of Aurora

Other former Kendall County residents also named plaintiffs in suit

Dyani Rodriguez, 12, of Oswego stands by a cross commemorating her grandfather Vincente Juarez during a ceremony in April at the Aurora Historical Society. Juarez was one of five men killed by a coworker Feb. 15 at Henry Pratt Company.
Dyani Rodriguez, 12, of Oswego stands by a cross commemorating her grandfather Vincente Juarez during a ceremony in April at the Aurora Historical Society. Juarez was one of five men killed by a coworker Feb. 15 at Henry Pratt Company.

ST. CHARLES – The family of an Oswego man killed in the Henry Pratt Company mass shooting last year, among others, is suing the city of Aurora for what lawyers call negligence and wrongful death following a similar pending lawsuit against the Illinois State Police.

According to Kane County court records, Leticia Juarez – whose husband Vicente Juarez of Oswego was shot while he was at work at the Aurora plant on Feb. 15, 2019 – filed a lawsuit on behalf of her husband's estate through her attorneys on Thursday, Feb. 13, against the city, following the failure of law enforcement to obtain firearms and a revoked firearm owner's identification card from shooter Gary Martin.

Gregory Sims of Aurora and Billy Dancy Jr., Lisle, who were employees of Henry Pratt and residents of Kendall County at the time of the shooting, also are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit with the Juarez family, according to court documents. Both "witnessed various parts of the rampage and have suffered trauma as a result," court documents said.

The recent Kane County lawsuit comes after Juarez previously filed claims against the state for allegedly failing to take the appropriate action regarding Martin's firearm owner's identification, or FOID, card and concealed carry license.

Martin's Illinois FOID card was revoked in 2014 after it was discovered while he was applying for a concealed carry license that he had a 1995 felony conviction in Mississippi, court documents said. The conviction was for aggravated assault against a former girlfriend whom Martin hit with a baseball bat and stabbed with a knife, according to court records.

Juarez's counsel said in court documents that the lawsuit is a response to another pending suit from the family against state police. The state is claiming that the city must be sued before the suit against state police can be pursued, court records said.

Juarez's counsel said in court documents the suit filed on Thursday in Kane County is "in no way based on the Aurora Police Department's heroic conduct in responding to the mass shooting event and other tragic events that occurred at the Henry Pratt Company on Feb. 15, 2019."

The update comes a day before the first anniversary of the mass shooting in Aurora.

Juarez, Josh Pinkard of Oswego, Russell Beyer of Bristol, Trevor Wehner of Sheridan and Clayton Parks of Elgin were all killed in the shooting. Five Aurora Police officers were also shot.

The Pinkard and Parks families also filed similar lawsuits against the City of Aurora on Thursday, according to Kane County court documents. All of the lawsuits request the court to rule in their favor for damages in amounts in excess of $50,000, plus costs of suit.

An attorney for the Juarez family did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Record Newspapers. Aurora police spokesman Paris Lewbel also did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Record Newspapers.

A spokeswoman for counsel representing the Juarez family in the lawsuit against Illinois State Police said on Monday, Feb. 10 surviving relatives declined comment ahead of the first anniversary of the shooting, partially due to the pending case against the state.

"There has been a lot of interest as the anniversary approaches, and it has been very difficult on them so they are declining the request at this point," Natalie Bauer Luce, spokeswoman for the Juarez family's counsel, said in a Monday email.

• This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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