As the dust settles after the heartbreaking mass-murder in Aurora Illinois on Friday, families of the victims are beginning to come to terms with the unwelcome change to their lives. It is understandable if they are bitter, and continue to hang onto the anger. After all, their loved one died at the hands of someone who was determined to commit a heinous act.
But one family is looking at the loss of their husband and father as a way to encourage others who may be facing similarly tragic circumstances.
In a truly inspiring footnote to this tragic event is the true story of one of the victims in Friday’s workplace shooting in Illinois. After having been shot by the attacker, he texted his wife as he lay dying to tell her he loved her. And what a priceless gift that final text is for them as they mourn his loss.
On the day after Valentine’s Day, 37-year-old Josh Pinkard was shot by assailant Gary White, 45, who opened fire on his co-workers during his termination meeting at an Aurora, Illinois company.
Martin had worked at Henry Pratt for 15 years; the reason for his firing has not been released to the public. But Martin must have suspected that the outcome would not be good - since he brought the weapon with him to the meeting.
“Martin was killed in a shootout with officers Friday, ending a deadly rampage with the Smith and Wesson, which was equipped with a laser, at the Henry Pratt warehouse. Five officers were also wounded in the attack.”
Pinkard, Plant Manager at Henry Pratt, was one of five people whom Martin killed that day, but in his final moments, he had the presence of mind to reach out to his beloved wife to convey his feelings one last time.
And to Terra Pinkard, her husband’s final few words are a source of immeasurable comfort to her and their three children, and will sure to be for years to come.
“I received a text at 1:24 from my precious husband that said I love you, I’ve been shot at work,” Terra Pinkard said on Facebook Sunday. “It took me several times reading it for it to hit me that it was for real.”
That’s when Mrs. Pinkard started to panic. She desperately tried to reach Josh at work but was unsuccessful.
“I called his phone several times, text, FaceTime, nothing,” she said. “I called his plant and a lady answered and said she was barricaded in her room and police were everywhere. Of course, my heart dropped.”
She was notified hours later that her husband was one of the dead, and that's when she turned to her faith in God and the support system she had built through her church.
“I finally got in touch with the aurora pd who told me of a staging area for victims families. I don’t know how my body drove itself there but it did. The police told us there were fatalities. He read my husband’s name.
“I immediately left and went to get my kids. With my pastor's help, since family was still on planes to get to us, 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."
On Sunday, Terra poured out her heart on Facebook, revealing how she has begun to deal with the tragic loss. And her faith in God has a HUGE place in how they are doing. You can read the entirety of her poignant message, below:
She ended the post by paying loving tribute to Josh and asking for prayers for not only herself and her children, but also for the other family members who have also been hit so very hard by this unfathomable loss.
“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.
“The man who was dying and found the clarity of mind for just a second to send me one last text to let me know he would always love me. This unbelievable person was robbed from us.
“The next few days are going to be filled with decisions to make on how to say my final goodbyes to a man I always said I couldn’t live without.
“But you guys have poured out your love on me. You have covered me, my children, our families with so much love and prayer. It is the only way we are doing it guys.
“Please continue to pray for my mother in law. This is her second child she will bury. Please pray for my sister in law. Josh was her twin brother.
“Please pray for my children. They are struggling because they miss a daddy who loved them so much. Please pray that somehow I can put that one foot in front of the other. And again thank you for all the kindness you have shown to us.”
Countless social media users, mostly those who didn't even know the Pinkards personally, poured out messages of love and support in the wake of the tragedy that no one could have seen coming.
“Josh Pinkard, 37, was one of the #AuroraShooting victims. But this family will remember him as a devoted husband and father of three and big backer of his alma mater, Mississippi State. “He loved God, his family and Mississippi State sports,” the Pinkard family said.”
“After Josh Pinkard had been shot, he texted his wife, @mitchdudek reports. He 'found the clarity of mind for just a second to send me one last text to let me know he would always love me,' his wife wrote on Facebook.“
“More than 1,500 people braved snow and freezing drizzle to attend a prayer vigil for the five victims Sunday in Aurora.” What a loving tribute.
Will you join us in sending up prayers for the Pinkard family and for the families of the other victims. Pray that God sends his eternal comfort to all those who are grieving a horrible loss today.