A Thursday evening workplace shooting at Excel Industries in Hesston, Kansas left four dead, including the shooter, and 12 injured, local authorities said.
The shooter — identified by coworkers as 38-year-old Excel employee Cedric Ford — was killed by police.
Ford reportedly opened fire around 5 p.m. as he was driving his car to the Excel facility, creating multiple crime scenes. Two victims were shot in theirs cars before Ford arrived at Excel, bringing the total number of injured to 14. The identities of the victims haven’t been publicly released yet.
Multiple employees are injured from gun shot wounds. EMS is on scene. pic.twitter.com/W446vyFfLO
— Avery Anderson (@AAndersonKSN) February 25, 2016
Many being triaged and taken to area hospitals. pic.twitter.com/wVQmEfc9WK
— Hesston Record (@RecordTime) February 25, 2016
Witnesses say Ford was armed with an AK-47 and a handgun. He recently posted a video of himself shooting a high-powered rifle on Facebook.
Posted by Cedric Ford on Sunday, September 20, 2015
“This is just a horrible incident here,” Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said last night, adding that while authorities have an idea about Ford’s motive, they’re not disclosing details at this time. “It’s going to be a lot of sad people before this is all over.”
A Wichita Eagle report details Ford’s extensive legal woes both in Kansas and in his home state of Florida. According to the report, earlier this month, a woman filed an order of protection against Ford, alleging he’d strangled her.
“He is an alcoholic, violent, depressed,” the woman wrote. “It’s my belief he is in desperate need of medical & psychological help!”
The incident was the 49th mass shooting in the United States in 2016, and comes just days after a shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan left six dead. Despite the fact that news of the Hesston shooting began circulating before last night’s GOP presidential debate, America’s gun violence epidemic wasn’t a topic of conversation.
Kansas has some of the laxest gun laws in the country. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign gave it an “F” rating in a 2013 state-by-state report, but the state has actually loosened its gun laws since that time.
Last April, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a “constitutional carry” law to allow adults to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training, “as long as that individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under either federal or state law.”
At the time of passage, then-state Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady (R) dismissed concerns about increased gun violence: “We haven’t had any of the Wild West shootouts. We haven’t had any of the blood running in the streets that folks feared were going to happen.” (Couture-Lovelady resigned his seat in November to become a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association).
After that change, Guns & Ammo magazine praised Kansas as “one of the strongest states for gun owners in the nation.
Brownback has previously argued that even federal gun laws should not apply in Kansas. As has been his practice after previous mass shootings, he responded to Thursday’s tragedy with “thoughts and prayers.”