On Feb. 26, ninety minutes before going on a shooting spree, Cedric Ford was served a restraining order forcing him to stay away from his ex girlfriend – the local sheriff believes this triggered him.
“I believe that probably is the trigger, and it went from there,” Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said.
Ford went on to kill three people and injure 14 more, of which 10 are under critical care. The shooter himself was shot and killed by police.
Ford’s target was Excel Industries, his workplace, which makes lawn care equipment in Hesston, Kansas. He was also shooting at people from his vehicle, as he made his way to Excel.
According to Walton, Ford seemed a little upset but “didn’t display anything… outrageous” when he was served with the restraining order at 3:30 pm in his workplace. The order required Ford to stay away from his ex-girlfriend, who claimed he was abusive.
Ford was also frequently in and out of the local county jail on minor charges, said Walton.
At around 5:00 pm police in the surrounding area started to receive reports of people being shot at while on the road. One man was shot in the shoulder while driving his two children. Another, had been driven off the road into a ditch, was shot, and then had their car stolen.
The police responded, but had no idea where the shooter would head next. They soon received reports of a shooting at Ford’s workplace.
“He was a mellow guy,” said Matt Jarrell, a coworker at Excel. “He was somebody I could talk to about anything.” Earlier that very day the two had been talking about Ford’s new truck, according to Jarrell.
Jarrell managed to later escape, but not before witnessing his friend pull up to work armed and shoot innocent bystanders while smiling. “It’s a picture I’m never going to get out of my head.”
Ford started shooting from the parking lot and continued as he made his way into the building. “He was just randomly shooting people,” said Sheriff Walton. “I’m not aware he said a thing.”
The rampage came to an end around 5:24 pm when a lone Hesston police officer went inside and killed Ford after an exchange of gunfire.
“There was probably 200 or 300 more people in that building while this was going on,” said the sheriff.
“This man was not going to stop shooting… The only reason he stopped shooting was because the officer stopped [him].”
The officer was Doug Schroeder, Hesston’s Police Chief for the last 18 years.
The three people killed at Excel were Renee Benjamin, 30, Joshua Higbee, 31, and Brian Sadowsky, 44.
It was the second shooting in the U.S. that week, after a man in Michigan was charged with killing six people and injuring two others in a similar rampage. The constant mass shootings in the United States have made gun control a hot topic, especially among Democratic candidates who advocate for increased gun control.