The Illinois State Police admitted Monday they have no idea what happened to the guns of thousands of felons whose gun privileges were revoked last year.
That stunning admission came after it was revealed that the gunman in last Friday’s massacre at an Aurora factory, Gary Martin, had his Firearm Owner’s Identification card revoked because of a prior felony, and should not have still had a weapon.
That prior incident was in 1994 in Mississippi. Two years after that case, the severely stabbed and beaten victim begged authorities not to release Gary Martin from prison.
“I am afraid that someone may end up dead,” Chyreese Jones warned investigators, “all because the prison system wants to be rid of him.”
That was in January of 1996. Martin was sentenced to five years in prison for the savage attack. But somehow, that assault never showed up in a background check when he was granted a Firearm Owner Identification Card here in Illinois 19 years later.
Armed with that card, Martin purchased the weapon in 2015 which he would eventually use to kill five people and severely wound five police officers at his Aurora workplace last Friday. And even though authorities did finally learn of the arrest and revoke his firearm privileges, no one ever followed up to make certain he surrendered his weapon.
“Absolutely he was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm,” Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told reporters. “That’s part of our investigation, is why and how he had that firearm.”
The 1994 attack on Jones had been especially violent. Police reports from Mississippi obtained by NBC 5 Investigates stated that the woman had been found “sitting in the floor with a cut to the neck and left side of her head…found later at the hospital a stab wound to the back with a butcher knife.”
“He told me that if he was going to end it, we was going to go out with a bang,” Jones told investigators at the time. “We are all going to die.”
It was not the only time Martin would attack Jones. She spoke of numerous assaults, including one where he held her and her daughter captive for six hours.
“During this time he would attack me, cut off all lights in the apartment and would lock my daughter out of the room so that he could kill me with a box cutter,” she said. “I begged my way out of getting killed.”
Martin pled guilty to a charge of aggravated assault for the baseball bat incident and was sentenced to five years in prison. Doctors who examined him for the court said they could find no definitive mental disorders.
“He described seeing his stepfather physically abuse his mother,” Dr. R. McMichael wrote the judge, noting that Martin had only completed the tenth grade before being expelled, and that in his adolescence in Aurora said he “hung with a gang-type crowd, the Gangster Disciples.”
Martin reportedly told the doctor, “I have a problem controlling my temper…when I get real upset.”
Just a few months later, Jones wrote that letter to authorities, imploring them to keep Martin in jail. She enclosed a letter from her onetime boyfriend, which she said indicated he continued to be obsessed with her.
“I don’t know how much longer I can hold on,” Martin said in that letter. “I wish you would have had my baby the very first time we created one. That would have made all the difference in the world for us.”
The assault and conviction should have been a deal-breaker when Martin applied for his FOID card in 2014. But even though NBC 5 Investigates found the prior arrest within minutes of the Aurora attacks last Friday, State Police investigators didn’t find it and green-lighted his gun-buying privileges.
Months later, when Martin applied for a concealed-carry permit, the Mississippi case was found and his FOID card was revoked. State law says local police are supposed to be notified when that happens.
But late Monday in a lengthy statement, the Illinois State Police were unable to explain what exactly happened. They do say they have documented that he was informed March 26, 2014 that his FOID card had been revoked. But it does not appear anyone ever followed up to make certain that he forfeited the handgun he had purchased just a month before.
State protocols call for anyone who has a FOID card revoked to fill out a form explaining how they disposed of their weapons. ISP issued 10,818 revocations last year alone. But the agency admitted Monday that most of those forms are never returned.
What’s more, the agency admitted that even though a FOID card is required when ammunition purchases are made, there is no requirement for merchants to run that card against the state system.
That means when Martin bought the bullets for Friday’s massacre, he may have shown his invalid FOID card---but there was no provision to detect that he should not have been purchasing ammunition.