At 3:30pm a protection-from-abuse order was handed to 38 year old Cedric Ford in Hesston, Kansas by the office of Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton. 90 minutes later a killing spree began leaving 3 dead and 14 injured.
Ford was a worker at Excel Industries in Hesston, a plant that manufactured lawnmower parts. According to The Wichita Eagle, the order came from Ford’s mother of his two children, 28 year old Sarah Hopkins of Newton, Kansas.
The filing, made February 5th say of Ford:
“He is an alcoholic, violent, depressed…It’s my belief he is in desperate need of medical & psychological help! … [Ford] placed me in a choke hold from behind – I couldn’t breathe.”
Ford is a convicted felon, with a long rap sheet stemming from a decade’s worth of crimes including burglary, grand theft and fleeing from an officer. Hopkins, with knowledge of his past crimes, is now being charged with transferring firearms to a convicted felon.
According to an affidavit cited by the Eagle, Hopkins moved out of the home with Ford in July and went back to get the guns with police a month later. However, Ford later threatened her life if he didn’t get the guns back – she obliged.
The weapons returned to him were used in the massacre which, according to the report, went down like this:
The shootings began about 5 p.m. as the gunman drove toward the plant. He opened fire and shot a man in another car, wounding him in the shoulder. Another person was shot in the leg at an intersection a short time later. The gunman was firing a .223-caliber long gun and also had a pistol, Walton said.
Walton said there were about four or five crime scenes in Newton, Harvey County and Excel. Police killed the suspect when he began firing on officers. The shooter was dead by 5:23 p.m. Walton described the officer who took him down as “a hero as far as I’m concerned.”
Police were interviewing 200 people in connection with the case. The FBI; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Kansas Bureau of Investigation; state highway patrol; Harvey County sheriff’s office; Hesston and Newton police are all investigating, Walton said.
The victims inside the Excel facility seemed to have been chosen at random and were transported to local hospitals. Here is a tweet of one of the victims being transported:
Ford’s social media accounts were littered with pictures and videos of him shooting weapons, however his co-workers claim they never noticed any erratic behavior from him or anything to suggest he was capable of such a horrible crime – even on the day of the shooting, leading to even more speculation that the court order was to blame for the rampage. The videos posted have since been taken down.
Hesston Police Department Sgt. Chris Carter is being haled a hero. He was off-duty when he encountered the shooting, helping one of the wounded into his pickup truck and seeking out Ford. Here is what he had to tell the Eagle:
“What crossed my mind was finding the bad buy, protecting everyone else who was there. Overwhelming. But we’re on auto-pilot. We’re trained for these. We just do what we’re trained to do.”
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