Four people were killed and 14 others injured in a Thursday afternoon rampage through a rural Kansas county that ended with the death of the gunman at police hands.
The gunman, identified by several Wichita news outlets as Cedric Ford, was a disgruntled worker at Excel Industries in Hesston, which suffered all the fatalities.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton told reporters late in the evening that the gunman killed three Excel workers people before the first officer called to the scene shot him dead.
Sheriff Walton said the gunman fired at people from his truck in nearby Newton streets and wounded one person. Another person was shot on Highway 81 on the way to Hesston.
He arrived at the Excel parking lot and shot one person, before going inside the plant and began shooting.
Sheriff Walton said five of the victims were in critical condition Thursday night.
“It was a black male with an AK-47 who was an employee, or used to be,” one woman told Wichita TV station KAKE just outside Excel, a company that makes Big Dog and Hustler mowing equipment. Eyewitness from inside the factory confirmed her account.
Ford fits that description, and the Facebook page of a Cedric Ford identifies him as an Excel worker and shows photos and videos of Ford wielding and using multiple firearms. He had a criminal record in Kansas and his native Florida, according to KWCH, the CBS affiliate in Wichita.
The woman told KAKE that her husband is a supervisor at Excel and she had other friends at the plant, one of whom she said had been shot and critically injured. She said she got her information from her husband inside the plant during a company head count for survivors.
The family member told KAKE that the gunman shot an elderly woman in the parking lot before going inside and attacking employees and security. Sheriff Walton confirmed that basic account and said that woman survived.
“Someone said this guy got fired, got upset and just came back and shot people,” a second eyewitness named Marty Pierce told KAKE.
Nearby Hesston College was on lockdown. Student “D.J.” told KAKE via telephone that students “all have been told to stay in each building, wherever you are, and they’ve locked the doors.” The lockdown was lifted after a couple of hours.
Excel Industries is apparently a gun-free zone.
“We got signs saying ‘no guns,’ but this guy’s got an AK and began spraying,” Mr. Pierce said.
“You never know these days, crazy people,” he said.