Mia de Graaf, Daily Mail, February 26, 2016
Law enforcement officials in Kansas revealed Friday that the gunman who killed three people and wounded 15 on Thursday was issued a restraining order that afternoon, which may have triggered the deadly rampage at the factory where he worked.
Father-of-two Cedric Ford, 38, clocked in to work as a painter at lawn-mower manufacturing firm Excel Industries in the city of Hesston on Thursday morning.
But hours later he left–and returned with a .223-caliber assault-style rifle and a pistol.
He allegedly gunned down victims in multiple locations and stole a car along the road back to Excel Industries at 5pm on Thursday. The stolen car’s driver was one of the three killed.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said this morning that the sheriff’s office served Ford a protection from abuse order involving his gilfriend at around 3.30pm Thursday, and that he thinks it was likely what led to the attack, which began about 90 minutes later.
The sheriff said such orders are typically served ‘because there’s some type of violence in a relationship,’ but he declined to specify the nature of the relationship in question.
Witnesses at the Hesston office building, 35 miles north of Wichita, said Ford pulled up outside in a red van, shot a woman in the parking lot, then entered the facility, unleashing a volley of bullets as people ran for their lives screaming ‘run, fire, fire,’ according to one account.
Three people were shot dead and 15 were injured–five critically–before Ford was gunned down by police 26 minutes later.
Authorities in Hesston have said Thursday’s mass killing was not terror related.
‘This is a horrible situation my friends, just terrible,’ Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said at a late evening press conference.
‘There were some things that triggered this particular individual,’ he said, without going into further detail.
While many of his victims were coworkers, the attacker appears to have opened fire at random, Walton said.
One worker told KAKE News that Ford, of Newton, Kansas, had ‘mental issues’ and was ‘being teased a little bit’ when he worked at Excel.
However, another said ‘he was the nicest guy I know’ and that they had been chatting as normal when they walked in the plant to clock in this morning.
Ford, a father-of-two, has a long history of burglary convictions, grand theft, and prowling dating back to the 1990s. It is not clear how he managed to obtain a weapon given his criminal record.
He recently moved to Kansas from Broward County, Florida, with his wife or girlfriend and their son and daughter.
His Facebook page is littered with pictures of Ford holding high-powered rifles. There is also a video of Ford shooting aimlessly into a field.
At one point during the evening, police were seen outside Ford’s home on Wagon Wheel Drive in Newton calling on the people inside to come out with their hands up.
The gunman’s male roommate refused to allow them in, resulting in a standoff.
But officers later obtained a warrant and entered the home only to find it empty, KSNW reported.
Neighbors on the street said Ford ‘kept himself to himself’ though he was occasionally seen with his children.
Meanwhile, five of the 15 wounded victims are in critical condition, KSN reports.
A worker at the firm, who told KAKE News he lived next-door to the shooter, said Ford had been subjected to bullying at work.
‘The talk around the plant was he had some mental issues. He was being teased a little bit.
‘He was just unloading on everybody. As people were walking out he was firing on them.’
Another staff member told a different story, saying Ford was his ‘partner’ at work and ‘the nicest guy I know’.
‘We were talking as we walked in to clock in together today,’ the staff member told CBS.
‘He just got a new truck, he came to work in that new truck today, we were talking about that.
‘And the odd thing is he came back in a different truck.’
He added: ‘It was unreal, I can’t believe it was him.’
And one employee named Marty Pierce described to KAKE how Ford was brandishing a gun as he chased workers then opened fire.
‘He just started spraying everybody in the production area,’ Marty told the station.
‘I heard pop, pop, pop.’
‘Gunfire was exchanged and law enforcement shot and killed the shooter,’ Harvey County Sheriff Walton told reporters in a press conference.
‘The shooter was actively firing at any target,’ he said. ‘This is a horrible situation–just terrible, terrible. There are a lot of shot victims.
He said there were multiple crimes scene, including a parking lot where Ford stole a van and shot dead the driver.
It was this van that he drove to Excel.
The first police officer on the scene exchanged fire with the gunman near the building’s paint room, killing him, Walton said.
‘Even though [the officer] took fire, he went inside of that place and saved multiple, multiple lives — a hero, as far as I’m concerned,’ the sheriff said, adding that his department received a congratulatory call from the White House after the incident.
The first call to 911 came at 4.57pm, when a motorist reported seeing a man in a grey Dodge Charger shooting wildly at a car park.
At 5.04pm, calls began to flood in from Excel with reports of shots being fired inside the plant.
Law enforcement arrived on the scene at 5.06pm.
It took police just over 15 minutes to secure the area. At 5.23pm, Ford was shot down by police.
Relatives were told to wait at Hesston High School to be briefed by law enforcement. Fifteen ambulances and two helicopters were dispatched to the crime scene.
Patients were taken to one of three hospitals in the vicinity: Wesley Medical Center and St Francis Medical Center in Wichita, and Newton Medical Center in Newton.
All three were on lockdown Thursday evening due to police activity in the area, with only patients allowed in.
Excel will remain shut throughout the investigation, which could be lengthy, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Kansas governor Sam Brownback said: ‘Please send your thoughts and prayers to the people of Hesston tonight.’