Shooter received 'Protection Order' prior to shooting

Published: Feb. 25, 2016 at 5:57 PM CST
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During the live online news conference on the Hesston shooting, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton confirmed the identity of the shooter involved in Thursday's mass shooting at Excel Industries in Hesston as Cedric Ford.

The mass shooting in south-central Kansas on Thursday evening claimed the lives of four people, including the shooter. Fourteen other victims were injured, five of them critically, the Harvey Co. Sheriff's Office said.

Most of the victims were shot at Excel Industries, a lawnmower manufacturing facility in Hesston, Kansas. The facility will remain closed during the investigation, which "could be lengthy," Sheriff T. Walton said.

According to an AP report, Walton confirmed that the shooter worked for the company and had been served with a "protection from abuse order" shortly before the attack.

Sheriff Walton 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 or to disclose the attacker's name.

Witnesses and co-workers told 13 NEWS sister station, KWCH's Lauren Seabrook that Ford was a painter at Excel.

Three of the people who were shot died from their injuries. Sheriff Walton says the families of those victims have been notified, but they are not releasing names until after they receive the final coroner's report. That could come later Friday or Saturday.

Authorities say they've set up a reunification center and are offering assistance at Hesston High School.

CEO of Excel, Paul Mullet, read a brief statement at the news conference. He thanked everyone for their concern. He said Excel is working to help employees through this tragedy

Gov. Sam Brownback has ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset to honor the victims.

"I ask all Kansans to offer their prayers for the victims and families of today's shooting in Hesston," he said. "This is a tragedy that affects every member of the community and I ask that Kansans remember them in their thoughts."

The Harvey Co. Sheriff's Office received its first report of a shooting at a Newton intersection shortly before 5:00 p.m. where a man hit in the shoulder. Minutes later came another report of a man shot in the leg north of Newton.

Walton said the shooter then arrived at Excel Industries where he shot someone in the parking lot before "opening fire inside the building." He was seen entering the building with an assault-style long gun.

The first Hesston officer who responded to the facility exchanged fire with the shooter and killed him. Walton called the officer, who wasn't injured, a "hero."

In all, 15 ambulances and two helicopters responded to the shootings. Patients were taken to Wesley Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center in Wichita and to Newton Medical Center.

Officers went the suspect's home in Newton to search and they heard loud music, they thought a roommate was possibly inside. No one answered the door and they surrounded the home. When they eventually went inside they found no one there.

Florida court documents show Ford was charged with multiple crimes in the past, including burglary, grand theft, fleeing and eluding and other charges dating back to 1996. Ford was also booked in Sedgwick County in 2008.

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