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'A man of unshakable faith': MSU remembers alumnus killed in Aurora, Ill. shooting

 

Josh Pinkard, 37, was one of five people shot and killed at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, Friday after another employee opened fire at the facility. Pinkard was a 2005 cum laude alumnus of Mississippi State University, husband and father of three.

Josh Pinkard, 37, was one of five people shot and killed at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, Friday after another employee opened fire at the facility. Pinkard was a 2005 cum laude alumnus of Mississippi State University, husband and father of three. Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

Alex Holloway

 

 

At 1:24 p.m. on Friday, Terra Pinkard received a text from her husband Josh Pinkard. 

 

It said: "I love you, I've been shot at work." 

 

It was the last thing Josh would ever tell her. 

 

Josh Pinkard, a native of Holly Pond, Alabama, and alumnus of Mississippi State University, was one of five people killed at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday when another employee opened fire on the plant.  

 

"It took me several times reading (the text) for it to hit me that it was for real," Terra wrote in a Facebook post Sunday morning. "I called his phone several times, text, FaceTime, nothing." 

 

 

 

A Bulldog 

 

MSU issued a press release Monday announcing Josh Pinkard was not only a university graduate, but a 2005 cum laude alumnus. He graduated with a degree in industrial engineering and was a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College. Josh, 37, worked as a manager at the Henry Pratt Company facility, which made water valves.  

 

MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter added Josh was still an enthusiastic fan of Bulldog sports. 

 

"The MSU family mourns the loss of our beloved alum, who was also a beloved husband and father," Salter said. "Mississippi State University extends our sympathy and prayers for his family and friends and for the community that has suffered this terrible tragedy." 

 

Even years after he graduated, Josh was still remembered by university professors and staff. 

 

Stanley F. Bullington, a professor and graduate coordinator with MSU's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, taught Josh in five classes. 

 

"He was a truly outstanding student -- always at, or near, the top of his class," Bullington said in an email to The Dispatch. "But I am happy to say that, from everything I knew, he was even a better person than he was a student. I'm so gratified to see what a wonderful husband and father he became. My thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with this terrible loss." 

 

William N. Smyer, a retired Industrial and Systems Engineering faculty member, also praised Josh's character. 

 

"Josh Pinkard was one of the finest students to come through our program," Smyer said, "not just academically but because of his tremendous character and congenial personality. A man of unshakable faith, he was a mentor to other students and a natural leader. He brought to MSU such a strong work ethic that one must conclude his parents did a wonderful job raising him. His tragic death leaves a void in all of us who had the deep privilege of knowing him." 

 

 

 

'A literal nightmare' 

 

Terra, also a MSU alumna, described Friday as a "literal nightmare" in her Sunday morning Facebook post.  

 

According to the Associated Press, Friday's deadly rampage came at the hands of Gary Martin, an employee who learned of the pending termination of his job at the plant. He killed five people and wounded six others before being killed in a shootout with police. 

 

In her post, Terra said she rushed to the scene, but was unable to get close or learn anything and went to a local hospital, where she waited for news. Later that day, the Aurora Police Department contacted her and told her of a staging area for victims' families, where she went and learned Josh had been killed. 

 

He leaves behind his wife and three children. 

 

"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," she wrote. "I've never had to do something that hard." 

 

The Dispatch could not reach Terra for comment, and in her post, she said it was hard to talk about Josh without breaking down in tears. 

 

"I want to shout from the rooftops about how amazing Josh was," she wrote. "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."

 

 

 

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