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Local

Sycamore man killed by gunman in Afghanistan

Jay Henigan (left) is seen with his sister, Lee Alden (right).
Jay Henigan (left) is seen with his sister, Lee Alden (right).

SYCAMORE – The impact of gunshots fired thousands of miles away in Afghanistan reached Sycamore as one of the community’s longtime residents, Jay Henigan, was killed in an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul where he worked in maintenance.

Henigan’s family confirmed Tuesday he was killed Sunday in Afghanistan during a shooting that broke out at an annex of the U.S. Embassy after an Afghan security guard employed by the U.S. Embassy opened fire inside the office building.

The gunman was killed, but not before shooting Henigan, 61, and a second person who was injured in the attack. An investigation into the attack is ongoing, and no motives have been determined.

Henigan was a lifelong resident of Sycamore, graduating from Sycamore High School in 1968 and working in his family’s business – Henigan Plumbing. Mary Lu Strack, Henigan’s aunt by marriage, said his great attitude would be missed.

“Jay always just had such a positive outlook on life,” Strack said.

Ted Strack, Henigan’s cousin, said while the two were not as close as others, he knew Henigan loved his work overseas and that all of his family and friends would miss him dearly.

Outside of confirming Henigan was the man killed Sunday, his immediate family declined further comment Tuesday.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul posted a statement on its website after the shooting, confirming the incident occurred at an annex of the embassy Sunday evening and that the lone gunman was killed.

“The motivation for the attack is still under investigation,” the statement read. “One U.S. citizen was killed and one wounded, who was evacuated to a military hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. We mourn the loss of life in the incident, and express our heartfelt condolences to the families. The Embassy has resumed business operations.”

The Associated Press reported it was not clear if the security guard acted alone or if he belonged to an insurgent group.

A U.S. official in Washington told the AP the Afghan attacker was providing security to the CIA office and that the American who died was working as a contractor for the CIA. The official requested anonymity from the AP because he was speaking about intelligence matters.

The AP reported that gunfire was first heard after 8 p.m. local time around the former Ariana Hotel, a building that ex-U.S. intelligence officials said is the CIA station in Kabul.

“(Henigan) provided essential support for the maintenance of the U.S. annex in Kabul,” U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall told the AP. “He was described to me as a valued member of the team, and he will be sorely missed.”

The U.S. Department of State and the CIA did not immediately return requests for comment to the Daily Chronicle.

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