The gunman who opened fire in an Aurora factory, killing five and wounding six, had a history of violent behavior going back more than two decades, including stabbing one girlfriend and threatening to kill another, according to court records.
“I felt helpless,” an ex-girlfriend wrote in a 2008 petition seeking a restraining order against Gary Martin. “Confused and scared. I have no one to defend me. Not even the law.”
Martin had threatened to kill her, had put his hands on her and beat her, and had thrown rocks at her, bruising her leg, she stated in the petition.
Martin’s history of violence dates back to at least the mid-1990s, when he was convicted of aggravated assault in Mississippi, authorities said. Authorities there said he regularly abused a former girlfriend, at one point hitting her with a baseball bat and stabbing her with a knife.
“All I can remember is him hitting and kicking me, I can remember fighting and screaming for help. I remember him pushing my head into that brick wall outside the apartment and thinking that he was going to kill me,” the woman told police in Mississippi in 1994, according to court records.
The assault led to Martin’s arrest. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison, though records show he served less than three years. He later moved to Aurora.
More than 13 years later — between July 16 and Aug. 25, 2008 — another woman documented at least seven instances when his behavior made her afraid. They lived in different buildings in the same apartment complex and had dated less than a year, according to court records.
During an argument, he started calling her names, walked out and slammed the door. When she was sitting in her car, he walked over, they argued and he called her vulgar names, she stated. She waited until he left to get out of the car, but before she made it inside her front door, he threw a rock at her, she stated. It hit her right leg, bruising her calf.
“Scared, and angry,” she stated. “I always have to look out the door and run to my vehicle.”
He kept calling her home and cellphone, she wrote. “He stated that he will beat my ass when he sees me outside and I better not get caught outside. He stated that he will place his hands on me.”
“Scared, frightened and helpless,” she wrote, the word “helpless” in capital letters. “I have no help at all. We live next door to each other. He knows my schedule and at times will come out and watch me.”
One day, when she was in her car getting ready to leave, he drove by and spit on it, she said in the documents. Property management couldn’t help her, and police said they couldn’t do anything either because no witnesses were present, she wrote.
Another time, she was on her balcony and he walked by on the way to his car, taunting her and calling her “obscene” names, making gestures and pounding his fist into his hand, giving her his middle finger.
Meanwhile, he kept calling her.
A judge approved an emergency order of protection on Sept. 2, 2008, prohibiting him from going to her home or workplace, and from speaking to or coming near any guest she had. Less than two weeks later, on Sept. 15, 2008, Martin was charged with violating the protection order by calling her, according to a criminal complaint. It was a misdemeanor charge.
On May 25, 2009, the woman sought another restraining order, stating he made threats to put his hands on her and to kill her if she messed with his car. He said he was “going to get” her.
One day that April, according to the petition, she heard a knock on her apartment door at 4:30 a.m. and heard him say, “(Expletive), I can hear you.” Another morning, she went to her car and found her windshield shattered. When she came home one day and parked her car, he walked to her doorstep and sat in front of the entryway. He called her a slur and asked why she didn’t get out of the car.
“I am going to get you, just wait and see,” he said, according to her petition, which indicated that she had video evidence.
In later years, he got restraining orders against her on the grounds that she’d slashed his car tire and harassed him by mail. Most recently, in May 2013, he got a court order barring her from entering his home or workplace, listed as the Henry Pratt Co., where the shooting occurred nearly six years later.
In an interview with the Tribune on Saturday, the woman characterized her relationship as more of a friendship. Despite their history, she never thought he’d commit a mass shooting.
On hearing the news, “I started to shake. I picked up the phone and I couldn’t even dial on the phone ... to call one of my friends,” said the 48-year-old woman, who spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity, citing privacy concerns. “I was trembling and shaking.”
She had moved into his condominium complex around the late 2000s. While they were “good friends” at first, the woman said that inexplicably changed when he called her to ask for a bandage.
She asked, “What size do you need?” before he started screaming and cussing at her, the woman alleged. She estimated “at least 20 calls between the two of us” were made to police, the woman said.
“He’s a manipulator,” she said. “He knew how to twist the story around and make him look like the victim.”
She said she didn’t want to move out of the complex because she owned her unit. She hadn’t spoken to Martin in several years.
With Martin dead, killed in a shootout with police, “Now I can walk in and out of my house without having to look over my shoulder."