In times of great tragedy, there are almost always bright spots to be found.
No, they don’t erase the horrible things that have happened. However, they shine a light on what’s great about humanity — the fact that there are decent people in the world who will step up in the most selfless of ways and remind us all that we look after our neighbors in times of need.
The people at Luigi’s Pizza in Aurora, Illinois are just those kinds of people.
As you may have heard, tragedy struck Aurora this week. On Friday, a gunman opened fire at a manufacturing plant in the city, killing five people and wounding another five policemen and six other individuals, according to WLS-TV. The gunman was eventually killed, although it remains unclear whether or not he took his own life or was shot by law enforcement.
The killer was identified as 45-year-old Gary Martin. The BBC reported he had been fired by the Henry Pratt Company after working there for 15 years.
Late Friday, the police chief said that “he was being terminated today.” WLS reported that he was summoned to a meeting room for his termination and responded by drawing a pistol. He first fired on the executives in the meeting room before moving to the plant floor.
“Next thing you know, he went walking back in front and we heard more shots and that’s when we just left the building, and he started opening up on the room and he was just shooting everybody,” John Probst, who has worked in the plant for 40 years, said.
All in all, a horribly tragic event. But when first responders needed a place to rest that night, Luigi’s Pizza opened its doors — something you often don’t see in a country where we’ve seen increasing ambivalence to the men and women of law enforcement.
According to WSPY-FM, the pizza joint and game center became a site of respite for those who needed it very badly.
“Tons, tons, tons of first responders, FBI, ATF, I mean, the whole kit and kaboodle,” Luigi’s Pizza manager Bob Lockwood said.
“They shut our place down, and we willingly shut our place down to serve them. They always serve us.
“The owner’s children have come in … to help make pizzas,” Lockwood continued. “We’ve graciously donated, you know, whatever they want to the first responders and the people at Henry Pratt.”
This wasn’t a small undertaking, either. Hundreds of officers were called in to deal with the shooting at the Henry Pratt Company, and they needed someplace to rest and get food.
Luigi’s Pizza was the place that undertook to serve them.
Friday was a tragic day for first responders. Five officers with the Aurora Police Department were shot in the incident, according to WLS. All are in stable condition. Meanwhile, five more victims are dead, with vigils planned for all of them.
A vigil for all of the victims, “#Aurorastrong,” is planned for Monday.
“Our hearts go out to the victims in this horrific tragedy. Our prayers to their families during what I’m sure will be a long and painful healing process,” Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said.
“But we will heal. We will come together as one community and stand by those in pain from today’s great loss. We will stand together with those officers shot in the line of duty. We will come together and heal as One Aurora.”
Part of that healing, we’d like to think, started at Luigi’s Pizza.
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