AURORA, Ill. - This Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the deadly workplace shooting inside Aurora's Henry Pratt Company.
Gary Martin killed five Pratt employees, moments before he himself was about to be fired. Martin also shot and wounded five Aurora police officers responding to the tragedy before he was cornered and killed himself.
Aurora Police Officer Marco Gomez now has a new assignment, getting in top cop shape so he can get back to work.
"I miss being around the guys,” he said. “I miss going to calls."
Gomez practically lives at ATI Physical Therapy in Oswego, working five hours a day, five days a week to recover from the devastating gunshot injury to his leg.
Ironically, Gomez had just left an active shooter training class at the Aurora Police Department last Feb. 15 when the calls started to come in.
The former Marine was the fifth officer to arrive on the scene.
"It was very quiet and eerie,” he said. “And just knowing from experiences in Iraq, this was bad."
As Martin fired shots out a window, Gomez scrambled to find cover behind a loading dock.
“I felt the round, it feels like a Charlie horse,” he said. “I knew I had gotten hit, and it felt like it was in my thigh area. Immediately I knew it was bad because I started getting really dizzy, really quick."
As one officer put a tourniquet around Gomez’s leg, others returned fire to provide cover as Gomez was dragged to an ambulance. The bullet had severed the femoral artery in his right leg.
“They had so many lines going into me, trying to get as much blood into me as possible,” he said. “Just as it was going in, it was going out."
Now, 51 weeks later, Gomez is in the last stages of grueling physical therapy and hopes to return to work on Saturday, the one year anniversary of his shooting.
"I was very blessed in a sense,” said Aurora Police Officer John Cebulski. “From what I would say when I was 16 years old, I knew I wanted to be a police officer."
Officer Cebulski had already put in 30 years as an Aurora cop when he was shot in the knee while searching for the gunman inside the Pratt building.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw something,” said Officer Cebulski. “I stopped and turned. There was a person coming up the steps. He started shooting right away and I guess 6, 7, 8 shots, which I got hit in the knee first shot."
Unlike Officer Gomez, Officer Cebulski's leg has been slow to recover.
“I'm not able to run efficiently, my lateral movements from left to right aren't very good,” said Officer Cebulski.
He's now filing paper in the traffic division until his disability is approved.
"It's very frustrating because I knew at some point I was going to retire from here,” said Officer Cebulski. “And it's nice to pick and choose when you’re going to do it. That was kind of taken away from me in a sense, I can't retire when I want to retire."
Of the five Aurora police officers who were shot at the Henry Pratt Company last February, officers Cebulski and Gomez remain on light duty, two other officers have returned to full-time active duty, and another has decided to retire.
"It's very easy to say ‘hey I’m done,’” said Officer Gomez. “But there's still a lot of good we could do, I could do. It could be someone crossing the street. It could be an active shooter. But you’re going to have to protect someone today."