A 38-year-old who had just been served a domestic protection order after allegedly abusing his girlfriend killed three and injured 14 before police got to him.
Cedric Larry Ford seemed to have a good thing going.
With a steady job at a lawn care manufacturing plant and photos of himself fawning over two children on his Facebook feed, the 38-year-old was a relatively successful guy in the central Kansas community of Hesston, where the plant was the main game in town.
But according to the New York Times, Ford was served an abuse protection order on Thursday afternoon. Ninety minutes later, he was randomly firing a gun out of his car window.
Locals were in mourning Friday after Ford's shooting rampage left three dead and 14 injured before he was killed by police.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton told the press in a briefing late Thursday that the violence started a little before 5 PM local time. That's when police first got a report of a man being shot in his shoulder in the nearby town of Newton, by someone in another vehicle. A few minutes later, police got another report that a motorist was shot in the leg as he was driving a pickup truck. The shooter then stole the vehicle and drove less than five miles north to Hesston.
Ford arrived at the factory as 200–300 employees worked their shift. After shooting and critically injuring a victim in the parking lot, he entered the facility and opened fire near the paint department. Some employees thought there was a fire before realizing the popping noises they heard came from an assault rifle.
"I just heard the gunshots and I just took off running," 25-year-old Jesus Fierro told the Times. "I heard people saying someone was shooting, and then I got shot in the leg and everyone started helping me."
An employee who was present said the gunman "started spraying everyone," sending workers rushing to exits amid the chaos. Walton said Ford went on firing "until he was out of ammo," according to NBC News, "I don't know how much he had... He was just shooting indiscriminately."
Tim Kasper, a laser operator at the plant, said that he was talking to a co-worker, his friend, before the chaos happened. Ten minutes later, the friend was dead from a bullet wound to the head.
"Things can change fast," Kasper told the Wichita Eagle. "It was just a normal day before that."
Ford was killed at 5:23 PM, according to the Hesston Record. Police found an assault-style rifle and a handgun on the man, who was quickly identified by co-workers.
The factory holds a special significance for Hesston, with the company employing about 1,000 people—about a quarter of the town's total population. The Times notes that it's common for spouses and fathers and sons to be co-workers at the factory.
According to theEagle,Ford had a troubled past that included a misdemeanor conviction in a "2008 fighting or brawling case," multiple traffic violations, and the alleged assault of a woman described as his "live-in girlfriend," who penned the written petition for protection on February 5.
The mass shooting comes just a few days after an Uber driver went on a spree that left six dead and two injured in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Both cities played host to what has become an all-too-routine sight in modern America.
As Sheriff Walton put it, "We always say it won't happen here. Well, here it is. It happened here."
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