CHICAGO: Five people were killed and multiple police officers wounded Friday when a gunman opened fire in an industrial area on the outskirts of Chicago, police said.
“At this time, we have confirmed that five” people “are deceased,” said Kristen Ziman, the police chief in Aurora, Illinois — a small suburb 40 miles (65 kilometres) west of central Chicago.
The chief said multiple officers were wounded, including two of the first who entered the building in a manufacturing complex where the shooting occurred at approximately 1:28 pm (1928 GMT).
The gunman, who was killed, was identified as 45-year-old Gary Martin, believed to be an employee of the facility.
Police said they do not know the motive for the shooting.
Witnesses told local media they locked themselves into nearby buildings as a man in his 30s or 40s began firing off rounds at a manufacturing complex in Aurora, Illinois.
John Probst, who was in the building as the shooting began but was able to escape, told the local ABC TV affiliate he recognised the gunman as a co-worker.
“What I saw was the guy running down the aisles with a pistol with a laser on it,” he said. “We were just scared.”
The local Daily Herald newspaper said on its website four police officers and “multiple civilians” had been wounded.
“There are unconfirmed reports that at least one civilian is dead,” the paper said, although it wasn’t clear in the immediate aftermath if the fatality was the assailant or another victim.
The aerial TV footage showed dozens of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks at the scene as local officers with shields entered the complex alongside the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Officers urged the public to avoid the area, announcing that they would give further details at a news conference later in the day.
Among the wounded were two patients being treated for “non-life threatening injuries” at a local hospital while several police officers were said to be in stable condition.
Aurora city spokesperson Clayton Muhammad told the local CBS TV affiliate less than two hours after the shooting began that “the immediate threat to the community has been neutralised.”
“The officers are in stable condition, those that were injured,” he said, adding that he had no details about wounded civilians.
The CBS affiliate and the Chicago Tribune newspaper said the person killed was the shooter.
Nancy Caal, an employee of a nearby repair workshop, told the Daily Herald she and three others had heard numerous emergency sirens, and so “went and shut the front gate and locked all of the doors.”
The local school district put campuses on lockdown.
“No one will be allowed to leave or enter our buildings until the soft lockdown has been lifted,” it posted on Twitter.
The shooting comes just a day after the first anniversary of Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student killed 14 students and three staff.
Nearly 1,200 children lost their lives to gun violence in the year since and there have been 37 mass shootings — those with at least four victims, not including the assailant — recorded already in the US this year.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters President Donald Trump had been briefed and was monitoring for news from the latest rampage.
In a presidential message Thursday to mark the Parkland anniversary, Trump recommitted to “ensuring the safety of all Americans.”
“Let us declare together, as Americans, that we will not rest until our schools are secure and our communities are safe,” Trump said.